Cheilectomy and Running

Morning all

I have suffered with a stiff and sore great toe for around 5 years, although the last 6 months of this my condition became exponentially worse almost forcing me into having to take action.  I suspect the original condition came from an incident in 2008 during a 5-a-side football game where i suffered an impact (turf toe) injury to the toe which actually broke the toe, and being a keen runner (10k's, Marathons, Tough Mudder) I never let the toe properly heal.  A sore toe is something you tend to put up with in the hope that the pain will go away (most blokes will relate to this).  It never does.  I self-diagnosed myself via the internet and realised that my condition was actually quite common and there were procedures available to part rectify the problem, although i also realised that as the condition is arthritic related  a complete cure was out of the question.

The reason i wanted to post this thread was because during my 'research' I found many cases of people being unhappy with their chosen option of surgery (mainly straight cheilectomies, albeit from a few years ago), and I feel based on my experiences that it could provide mis-representation for those in similar situations to me wondering what to do for the best.

My problem was;

Complete damage to the joint in my right great toe, around 60 % cartalidge remaining, bone shards floating around in the joint, 2 bone spurs prominent, one at the top of the knuckle and one at the side of the knuckle near to the 2nd toe, probably only around 20 % movement in the toe, painful almost all day every day (worse in the cold and after exercise).

Despite the horror stories you find online I decided to have a cheilectomy operation to shave off the bone spurs, the surgeon also recommended cutting a V shape from the bone and pinning the joint together to open the joint out increasing movement capability.  Also he wanted to flush the joint out, get rid of the broken bone shard, remove the small sesmasoid (sp.) bones under the ball of the foot and drill the cartalige to allow blood to flow and promote new cartalidge to grow.  I had all this done last Saturday morning, the op took 25 mins and I didnt feel a thing.  During the op the surgeon showed me the bone shard that was floating around in the joint, it was at least 1/2 inch long.  My foot was wrapped in a bandage and i was given a surgical shoe to wear (bit like a velcro sandal type thing).

The recovery so far has been better than expected (again judging on the things I had read pre-op).  The first night was hard (slept on and off) once the anaesthetic had worn off, but plenty of Ibroprufen, rest, foot elevation, and frozen sweetcorn has resulted in me being able to bear weight on the foot from yesterday, and today the recovery is even better I am now off the painkillers, walking unaided and without much discomfort.  I am due back at the surgery this morning to have the dressing changed to a lighter one and the wound inspected for healing.  I am confident that they will be pleased with the recovery so far.

Although I realise I am still early post-op, I hope that posting this will be useful information for all your runners out there with toe complications.  I am planning on returning to spinning classes soon to keep the cardio up as this has been recommended and is low impact on the joint.  I do not see any reason why running should not be an option in the future because only being 33 I do not want to give up doing what I love.

I will post again in a few days for those that are interested to update my progress.






  • Well I am nearly 2 weeks post-surgery and have now had all the bandages and dressings removed leaving a 2 inch scar along the side of my foot.  The scar is healing nicely and I have been given the all clear to start wearing trainers again, which will remain my only type of footwear allowed for a further 6 weeks.   I have been given exercises to perform daily which all involve moving the toe in different directions which should encourage movement, prevent natural stiffening, and build up strength in the area around the operation.   I have been told to walk as much as possible as this is the best way to strengthen the area and that driving should now be back on the agenda.

    I am delighted to report that there is now no pain in the joint itself which is like manna from heaven for me.  I have some minor swelling and discomfort from the scar itself but this should fade quickly.  I can honestly say at this point that I have no regrets whatsoever about opting to have the procedure.   I would estimate that 70-80 % of movement has returned to the toe which places it on par with my other (left) great toe.  I am well pleased with this outcome.

    I experienced some blood seepage from the wound which did penetrate the first (fuller) bandage that I had on for the first week.  At one point I was going to return to the clinic unscheduled to get the dressing changed but the seepage did cease and there was no need.  Once the first bandage was changed and a lighter bandage put on there was no further problem.

    I would say the hardest thing so far about the recovery is the sheer level of inactivity needed that follows the operation.  As someone who is used to being always on the go being glued to the sofa with the foot elevated and iced is not any idea of fun (there is only so much fifa you can play or films to watch!).  However I am glad I have followed all advice and did kind of enjoy the rest.   

    I hope that the above is useful, I will update my progress soon.

    Until then take it easy and happy running J

  • I am now 22 days post surgery and the scar is healing very nicely.  The top inch of the scar has completely healed along with the bottom half inch or so.  The middle inch where the harshed intrusion took place has scabbed over and is well on the way now.  I am now almost walking normally (no limp) and can feel no pain in the joint, just a touch of tenderness and stiffness around the scar area.  I expect this to fade very rapidly now.  The toe has retained its new flexibility which is great.  I have been bathing the area in warm salt water and applying a bio-oil to the scar, this seems to be working well.  

    I have done two spin classes (one friday, one saturday) and a body pump class at my gym.  The spin was hard on the foot but I got through ok.  I am returning to work tomorrow and am planning on visiting the gym next week probably 3 or 4 times. 

    The lack of pain from the joint is hard to get used to, I keep expecting it to flare up when i walk but it doesnt.  I am very happy with my progress so far and definately feel like I am out of the woods now but will continue to take nothing for granted.

    I will update soon, take it easy image     

  • Hello! I have just read your post and am wondering how you are now. I am from Belgium and had a toe surgery just like yours (well, I think so: cheilectomy and Moberg osteotomy, so it is also cutting a V shape in a bone). Like you, I have read a lot of posts on Internet, and this is the only one I saw about cutting the V shape. Most posts are about a arthrodesis. I had the surgery in April 2013, just 3 months ago. I'd like to know how it is for you now. As for me, it is always painful when I walk (I haven't tried to run yet), when I put the toe on the ground and try to put my weight on it... Maybe I only have to be patient? Well, it is not too painful, I don't use any painkiller, but it is always there. If you have some time, I'd appreciate your experience. By the way, please, excuse my mistakes, my own language is French, so it is not always easy to explain everything. Have a nice summer.

  • morning all, I too have had a Cheilectomy, (big toe right foot) only two days ago. I had grade 2/3 arthritis of the great toe and  So far so good, pain free for first time in 18months! I appreciate its early days but doing the  d-i-y physio' as advised by surgeon and toe moving ok. The most frustrating thing is doing nothing!  My Surgeon was very enthusiastic about this procedure for my level of disease.  From my experience so far,  if you have early onset arthritis and lead an active life, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this surgical option.  If the arthritis is allowed to progress bone fusion is the only option.....not something I wanted to even consider

  • Hey! Great insight into your op. I have had no upright movement in my right big toe (partial in my left) for several years after a sports injury, finally decided to see a specialist in Sept 2013 and by mid November I had a cheilectomy. So far it's been great! I have had several bouts of physio...although there is only so much you can do with a big toe! The pain caused by the bone spur has completely gone, although I still have very little movement, but this is most likely caused by the fact it hasn't moved in several years!

    Anyway to get to the point, have you done much running since the op? I haven't done much before due to the pain pre-op but was hoping it's something I could get into? Gave you got any advice on footwear? Flexible to get movement back or supportive to minimise movement?!


  • I have had a bilateral cheilectomy just a few hours ago, that I have read here today has been very interesting, I am sure I made the right decision in having surgery as I am a keen/competitive runner and the pain I was having has meant that I have been unable to do much running this year. 

    i would be very interested to hear how long it was before you guys could return to running, I appreciate because I have had both feet done that it may take me a bit longer.

    happy running! 

  • I had this op a week ago, you are 2 months ahead of me, can I ask how you are doing? I have had no pain, some bruising, i can see a little movement where there was none before and wish I had done it 7years ago.

  • Sorry abc1, I didn't see this post.

    At the time you pposed the question I was alternating days with gentle running of around 3 miles and walking 5-7 miles, I was still experiencing discomfort and aggrevated the situation by stubbing my big toe on hard stone. Since then I have gradually increased my running both distance and days and even taken part in a couple of races although these have been more hard pace rather than race pace as speed is still coming back, I am up to 40 miles per week now on 5 sessions per week of varying distance/speed, my long run reached a high of 12.5 miles last week!!

    I definately feel more comfortable running rather than walking, I had a gait analysis a couple of weeks ago as well and have found that it has changed, I am now a neutral rather than pronator.

    I hope your recovery has gone well and that you are up and running again?

  • I had a cheilectomy op 3 days ago and was glad to read these posts about recovery. I had deliberated for some while about having this done having read negative experiences on line but decided to take the plunge as my consultant was very positive about outcome.

    So far, so good and encouaging to hear your stories.

    From reading this site, and other info,, I realise that exercise of the joint pretty soon after the op is essential.  I was not given any information on this and the only follow up appt I have is for my GP nurse to remove the large dressing next week.  I guess I need to investigate this - thanks.

    My 'running' is really more a big of jogging to ward off the weight gain.  The thing I really want to get back to asap is cycling - any experiences of when this is OK?


    Good wishes for recovery to all


  • Hi everyone from my unaccustomed perch in bed - cheilectomy was yesterday. Like John W above, I suffered increasingly for 7 years after an injury that I ignored, turns out it was fractured and moderate (close to stage 3) hallux limitus resulted, with a loose bone fragment in the joint too, finally making it necessary to stop running and seek surgical help. I am absolutely thrilled with the outcome so far. I took one tylenol last night before bed, wasn’t even sure I would need it. I’m being strict about elevation and using the boot and cane  even to go to the bathroom. <div>
    </div><div>Like many above, my main complaint is idleness and restless. Not used to being off my feet, very active 52yo living in a a fifth-floor walkup alone. But I have friends dropping by to help with tasks that are onerous or ill-advised. Otherwise I have felt remarkably self-sufficient since I got home. Had no trouble climbing the stairs, and so little pain that I’d say it has actually been an improvement over the pain I felt before surgery. Happy to answer questions here, from any of you considering this surgery. </div><div>
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