Walking shouldn’t be painful but for many people, every stop hurts. Now there's a new device that’s allowing people to walk in comfort.
The average person takes 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day and walking is something that Charles Moser took for granted until he couldn't do it anymore.
He says, “I wasn’t able to walk without, uh, extreme pain, uh, to the point at times of being able to not make a step, you know, in mid-stride simply because of the pain.”
Charles’ life was dramatically altered because of the osteoarthritis in his big toes. He then went to see Dr. Robert Zobel.
Charles says, “He took the x-rays and he said we can treat this two ways: rather conservatively with some, uh, cortisone injections or a little more aggressively by having surgery.”
Charles opted for surgery, featuring a new type of toe implant called the K-2 Hemi.
Dr. Zobel says, "The K2 Hemi implant was developed because there were a lot of problems with the present, uh, implants that are out there.”
In fact, Dr. Zobel developed the K2 implant because he felt there was a better way for patients to get back on their feet.
Dr. Zobel says, "When you use this implant, the way that I have designed it, uh, you maintain power. People are able to get up onto their toes.”
Having the tendon attached to the implant allows the patients to bend their toes, giving them more flexibility.
For Charles, it renews the spring in his step.
“I don’t have that pain at all," he says. "It’s wonderful. I can work 12, 14-hour days and still not have the, the pain that I was experiencing prior to the surgery.”
The K-2 Hemi toe implant is available at hospitals and doctors' offices around the country. Click here for additional information.
Fast Facts:Each step places 1.5 times a person’s body weight on the feet.
Problems with the big toe, like arthritis and bunions, can cause a significant amount of pain and interfere with the ability to walk.
In severe cases, doctors may recommend fusion or joint replacement surgery. With fusion, patients lose range of motion in the toe. Replacement joints for the toe are associated with a high failure rate.
A new type of implant system, called the K2 Hemi toe implant, provides greater motion in the toe and stronger propelling forces.
Some Big Toe Problems
The average person walks about 1,000 miles a year. With each step, the foot endures about 1.5 times a person’s body weight. Much of the stress is placed on the BIG toe.
One common problem that can affect the big toe is osteoarthritis. Normally, the ends of the bones in a joint are covered with a protective layer of cartilage. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage begins to wear or develops tears (from an injury), causing inflammation, swelling and joint pain. Over time, it becomes harder to bend the toe, causing a condition called “hallux rigidus,” or stiff big toe. Patients may experience pain during activity (especially during push-off with the toes), a bump on the top of the foot, difficulty wearing shoes and limping. In severe cases, the pain occurs even at rest.
Another common condition that affects the big toe is bunions. A bunion occurs when the big toe leans inward toward the remaining toes. As the condition progresses, a characteristic bump develops on the side of the big toe. Patients may experience pain and soreness (especially when wearing tight-fitting shoes or high heels), inflammation, a burning sensation, redness of the toe and sometimes, numbness.
Treating Problems with the big toe
Pain medications may help reduce some of the pain and inflammation caused by toe problems. Shoe modifications, padding or orthotic devices may provide support and improve motion. Physical therapy may also provide temporary relief. For some patients, steroid injections into the affected joint can help reduce inflammation and pain.
When symptoms are severe or treatments don’t provide adequate relief, doctors may recommend some type of surgical intervention. In a cheilectomy, surgeons remove bone spurs and a small amount of the foot bone to give the toe more room to bend. A bunionectomy is performed to remove a bunion and correct the foot deformity. For severe cartilage damage, doctors may recommend arthrodesis (fusion). The damaged cartilage is removed and pins, screws and plates are inserted to hold the toe in a permanently fixed position. Fusion helps to reduce severe pain, but also prevents bending of the toe, so patients lose some degree of foot motion. Another option for severe cases of toe osteoarthritis is joint replacement. Surgeons remove the damaged joint and replace it with an artificial joint. While joint replacement preserves motion in the BIG toe, the artificial joints have a high failure rate.
The K2 Hemi toe Implant
The FDA has approved another type of implant system for the big toe, called the K2 Hemi toe Implant (Kinetikos Medical Incorporated, or KMI). The one-piece implant is made of cobalt chromium and titanium - materials that are strong and safe to use inside the body. It is designed to replace half of the affected joint. Unlike other types of implants, the K2 design allows surgeons to attach the long tendon to the implant, giving patients greater motion and propelling forces.
Placement of the K2 Hemi toe implant is done on an outpatient basis. The foot must remain elevated for about 72 hours. Gradually, the patient can start walking again. Crutches aren’t needed. Instead, a special shoe is worn to protect the toe and help the area heal. Most patients are back in their regular shoes in three to four weeks.
The K2 implant is approved for use in patients with osteoarthritis of the big toe, hallux rigidus and end-stage bunion deformity. It is not recommended for patients with joint infection, poor bone quality, rheumatoid arthritis or diseases affecting the tendons, nerves or circulation in the toe.
For information about the K2 Hemi toe implant:
For information about foot conditions and treatments:American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Web site.
American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons Web site