One in forty adults over the age of 50 suffers from a very common form of foot arthritis that can result in debilitating pain if left untreated.
On Tuesday, a first-of-its-kind surgery in the U.S. involving a synthetic cartilage implant was performed right here at home at Strong Memorial Hospital.
Richard Baumgardner is a 65 year old physical therapist from Leicester, Livingston County, who has suffered from great toe arthritis for about a decade.
“It gets very uncomfortable. It’s been going on now for about ten years,” Bamgardner said. “Once it begins to alter your lifestyle a little bit – the type of footwear you can wear, your activity level – it’s time to get something done.”
For Richard and millions of Americans who are dealing with this form of toe arthritis, every step can be debilitating.
Dr. Judy Baumhauer with the University of Rochester Medical Center is the principle investigator on a long term study comparing results of the Cartiva implant procedure to traditional surgery.
“It’s providing an opportunity for the people of the United States to have an implant that goes into their toe that will last, and doesn’t burn any bridges,” Dr. Baumhauer said.
Dr. Baumhauer performed that surgery involving synthetic cartilage on Richard on Tuesday morning. The hope is it will relieve Richard’s pain while providing greater mobility than other surgeries that simply fuse two bones together in the joint.
“It’s a better option because, I can be weight bearing within a couple of days,” Bamgardner said. “If I had it fused, I would be limited for about six weeks while it healed. So to be able to be up and on my feet within a day or two is the big selling point.”
Once healed, Richard hopes to get back to playing his favorite sport, ice hockey, before the start of the season.