“Can I run again after Hallux Rigidus surgery?”
I get so many emails asking me “Can I run again after Hallux Rigidus surgery?” I thought I would do another update. I had a Cheilectomy for Hallux Rigidus in October 2008.
1. What were your symptoms?
I started to feel mild pain in my big toe after I would go for long runs. At first I thought this was a result of my shoes not fitting correctly. I even switched brands hoping that would help, which it didn’t. (ASICS are still my favorite running shoe!) I realized something was seriously wrong when my then 2 year old son would step on my foot and the pain was so bad I would scream. I went to a podiatrist who diagnosed it as Hallux Rigidus, which is sometimes referred to as “turf toe”. A bone spur had grown across the top of my big toe joint, making it difficult to bend the toe.
2. Did you try orthotics?
Before surgery, no, I did not have orthotics. By the time my condition was diagnosed, it was too late for orthotics to make any difference. The bone spur was already too big and causing pain. For a few years after the surgery, I did wear orthotics but have since found Adidas trail shoes support my feet so much better. They have a wide toe box and a hard bottom that provides great foot support. I always wear shoes, even in the house, because walking barefoot is too uncomfortable for me now.
3. What procedure did you have done?
I had a basic Cheilectomy. The doctor opened up my foot and removed the bone spur that was on top of my toe joint. I did not need any fusing of bones or metal rods inserted in my foot.
4. What kind of doctor did you go to?
For the actual surgery, I went to an Orthopedist, based on a referral. This ended up being a bad decision as I don’t think he really cared if I could get back to running or not. I also woke up during surgery, which he later tried to deny.
After the procedure, I switched to a Podiatrist for a follow up care. He was disappointed with the location of my incision, telling me that it was made over several key nerves in my foot. (which might be why I was still in so much pain.) Again, my advice is to research your doctor as much as possible.
5. How long was your recovery and can I run again after Hallux Rigidus surgery?
This is a tough one. I was mistakenly told I would be back running within a few weeks. This was NOT the case. It was at least six months before I felt okay enough to even attempt to run on it again. I went to a chiropractor to help break up the scar tissue that was causing so much pain. Research your doctor and make sure you are both on the same page for your recovery plans. My doctor was used to treating older patients so his objective was to get the patient up and moving again. My objective was to be up and RUNNING again, not just moving.
It took a few years for me to be totally pain free and now I can say that my foot no longer bothers me. Sometimes I even forget I had the surgery, until I get an email from someone asking me about it. 🙂
6. Can you wear high heels now?
This question always makes me laugh a little. I *could* wear high heels, but I try not to wear them. I had to buy a pair last year for a Christmas party and it was NOT comfortable but that didn’t have anything to do with my surgery. They are seriously just not comfortable shoes!
7. How is your foot now?
When I wrote my original update, I wrote
“Sadly, it is still in pain. Not even just with running. If I walk for an extended period of time, it starts to throb. If I do impact exercises (like jumping rope, jumping jacks, etc.) for too long, it aches for hours afterward. Even doing a simple lunge (where your toe has to bend and bear most of your body weight), hurts.”
This is no longer the case thankfully! My foot doesn’t hurt anymore at all. I no longer log the miles I used to run, so perhaps that is the reason it no longer hurts. I did however finish a Tough Mudder, which is a 10 mile trail race, with no foot pain at all. That in my opinion is a huge sign that yes, I can run again after Hallux Rigidus surgery!
I still cannot stress enough how IMPORTANT your feet are! Take care of them! Don’t go cheap when it comes to shoes, treat your feet to the very best shoe possible! For running, I love ASICS because they have a wide toe box and great cushioning. Click here to check out my favorite pair of running shoes.
Hopefully I answered your question about Hallux Rigidus but if not, please feel free to contact me. If you have had surgery, please leave a comment below and let us know how you are doing.