I can give a personal report on several accounts. I've been doing triathlon since 1983. 20 years ago I had a cheilectomy, it gradually got worse. For the past three years I have had bone-on-bone pain. Early September 2018 I had Cartiva implant. I expect I do more endurance stuff than most patients who have the procedure. My surgeon told me to to three months for running. This is what I reported to my orthopedist:
- Day four I was walking up and down stairs which I found easier than walking on flat ground because I can keep my foot flat on the stairs.
- Day six I was able to use an elliptical trainer with my feet flat with no trouble at all.
- Day eight postop I used a stationary bike, again with my foot flat in the boot.
- Day 13, I was able to do a one-hour outdoor bike ride. Riding the bike with my foot flat in the boot is painless.
- at four weeks I ran 1 mile, slowly and carefully, running has improved, I am 11 1/2 weeks postop now and up to 1/2 a marathon. In planning on doing a marathon December 9.
- I started using my clippin bike shoes at week eight but it is still painful. I have speed play petals, I just ordered a part that will allow me to shift my foot forward so the force is away from the ball of my foot.
I'm sure this is a more aggressive rehab than recommended. The most important thing is to be careful not to jam your toe into anything, that could push the implant into the bone, so you would lose the gap between the bones. I'm not risking surfing yet, it would probably be safe at three months but there are other things to do. I'm hoping to be back to climbing but figure I will wait until six months postop. The website for the product says maximal improvement is around six months. My surgeon said he has patients improving all the way up to one year.
My flexibility is good, already better than preoperatively. I still have pain but the pain is different than what I was having before. Most of the pain is on the ball of my foot and the inside of the foot adjacent to the ball of the foot. There is still some swelling which apparently is normal. I am hoping the pain is part of the postoperative process. I figure in three months I'll know much better what to expect long term but at this point I'm impressed.