ONS orthopaedic foot surgeons, Dr. Michael Clain and Dr. Mark Yakavonis, are among the few in the country using a new synthetic cartilage implant to treat painful arthritis in the big toe joint (metatarsophalangeal or MTP joint).  The implant is composed of a bio-compatible, organic polymer that functions similarly to natural cartilage. Patients with the implant experience reduced pain, functional improvement, and improved range of motion in a much shorter period of time than with traditional procedures.

Traditional joint fusion in the big toe is a common and useful procedure to alleviate the rubbing of bone on bone from arthritis. However, it can inhibit the foot’s natural motion. With the new synthetic cartilage, the big toe is able to bend and bear weight similarly to a non-arthritic toe.


The implant procedure takes about 30 to 60 minutes. Patients can go home on the same day. The surgeon makes a two-inch incision along the top of the toe to remove a piece of the bone and create space for the new cartilage. The implant does not require glue or cement to stay in place.

Patients usually are able to put weight on their toe immediately following surgery. Your surgeon will give you toe mobility exercises to help regain movement of your toe.  The synthetic cartilage is designed to last a lifetime, so ideally patients will not need to undergo a replacement procedure in the future.

Synthetic cartilage implants may not be the right treatment for everyone, but the device certainly expands the options available for patients for relief of pain and return of function.  It is important to discuss your individual condition with your physician to understand the benefits,  risks, and the recovery process. You can learn more about the synthetic cartilage implant by clicking on the brochure to the left.