PIP fusion surgery

PIP fusion surgery is used to treat problems with the toes.

Why do I need PIP fusion surgery?

These are usually where deformities of the PIP (proximal interphalangeal) joints – the first joint in the small toes – have developed, such as ‘claw toe’ or ‘hammer toe’, where the joints protrude upwards causing the affected toe to be permanently bent, or sit higher up or lower down than the other toes.

PIP joint problems can sometimes be present from birth, or develop following an injury or due to other problems, such as osteoarthritis, ill-fitting shoes and bunions. They don’t always require surgery but if the deformity is causing persistent problems, such as pain and difficulty with walking and exercise and other treatments haven’t helped, surgery may be recommended.

The procedure

PIP fusion surgery involves making a small incision above the affected toe, before small segments of bone are removed from the sides of the toe, enabling the surgeon to straighten the joint and restore the correct position. The joint will then be ‘fused’ into this position, either with special wiring/pins or small surgical screws to hold it in place.

Recovery

Recovery times can vary depending on the level of surgery performed, but you will need to take time off work to rest and allow your foot to heal before returning to strenuous activities. Your surgeon and a physiotherapist will advise on how best to approach this, plus any exercises that can help.

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