/ Climbing after big toe and middle toe fusion ?

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siobhan66 - on 28 Dec 2016
I am wondering if anyone has any positive experiences of climbing after having this procedure done. I am 6 weeks post op ...for pes cavus. I had my arch lowered , my ankle bone repositioned and a tendon transfer that has resulted in my big toe being fused, my middle toe is also fused. I have scanned the internet and can't really find any thing that helpful although there are few archived posts on here.
Thanks in advance ,if anyone can enlightened me I would be most grateful..so sick thinking I might not be able to don my rock shoes and climb again
radar on 28 Dec 2016
In reply to siobhan66:

Slightly different, my left big toe fused due to a fracture. Hopefully my experiences might help you out.

Rock shoes - had to buy new ones. No more itsy bitsy dainty slippers for me. Way too painful and unpleasant. Sensible shoes since my toe fused. Took a very patient shop assistant to help. I did go in on a quiet day and explained my predicament, if not i think i could have been construed as taking the weewee.

I have vague memories of having to adapt how i used my left foot, particularly smearing. Also tiny edges were a no go for a while as they were too painful.

Almost 20 years later it is just how it is, no pain and my foot placement has adapted so it's just normal for me. Only real impact is the need for comfy rock shoes (but that might have something to do with age too).

James Mann - on 28 Dec 2016
In reply to siobhan66:

I know nothing of your condition but I did break my leg very badly about two years ago. I have had some more surgery recently to improve my situation. I have a fairly limited range of mobility in my right ankle. Climbing to begin with was quite disappointing and even easy climbing was hard. Over time I began to adapt and found my own way of doing things. It takes time and requires patience. I am sure that if you want to and put the time in that you can get back to climbing and climbing well again. Don't listen to anyone who tells you that things are impossible. You will find out what you can and can't do yourself. I have been very aware of making sure that I won't hit anything and that has meant no bouldering and avoiding certain routes. You need to be careful but you will be able to do more than you can imagine now. Good luck.

siobhan66 - on 29 Dec 2016
In reply to radar:

Thanks for your reply , yes I was thinking my current rock shoes would be put out of commission, shame but I can look forward to buying some new snazzy ones I suppose! Adaptation,I am used to this but helpful to have your feedback...seems like my situation is pretty uncommon in the climbing community. Thanks again it's encouraging to hear from someone like yourself ...makes me think I have a chance
siobhan66 - on 29 Dec 2016
In reply to James Mann:

Hi James
Like Radar, your reply has made me feel a bit better. When your in the early stages of recovery even walking seems like it will never happen let alone climbing. Thanks for the advice, I am a fairly patient and determined person if there is something I want to do... I had more or less stopped bouldering as I was so worried about falling off and causing damage before the operation but I really want to climb again in the future so...Yes I won't listen to the naysayers and try to keep positive and take my time. Thanks again.
jon on 29 Dec 2016
In reply to siobhan66:

Adapt your climbing style to suit your new situation. Learn to climb on your outside edges rather than on the points. This puts minimum strain on your toes and doesn't require uncomfortably tight shoes. A bi-product of climbing this way is that your reach will increase quite dramatically.
Chris Craggs - on 29 Dec 2016
In reply to siobhan66:

I haven't had my big toe fused, but I broke it several times as a youth and had an op on it in my 30s to remove some of the bone. It hasn't bent since then and still has a big lump on it. Rock shoes can be an issue, big boots are more of a problem as there isn't usually room in the toe box.

Apart for getting suitable rock-shoes I am glad to report it hasn't really affected my climbing,

siobhan66 - on 30 Dec 2016
In reply to jon:

Hi Jon
Thanks for your reply...I hadn't thought about using the outside edges as opposed to on the points! I think I will also keep my rock shoes for now and wait until I can start climbing again and experiment with using the left old one with a more comfortable new right show on my injured foot. Increasing my reach would be certainly a welcome bi-product. Many thanks
siobhan66 - on 30 Dec 2016
In reply to Chris Craggs:

Hi Chris
Thanks for your reply. Good to hear your wonky toe doesn't affect your climbing...suitable rock shoes it is then. I'm a million miles away from that but I'm encouraged by other peoples experiences so far.
Many thanks
Stuart en Écosse - on 30 Dec 2016
In reply to siobhan66:

For some inspiration look up Andy Parkin. There are a number of good short films around, especially this:

ashtond6 - on 30 Dec 2016
In reply to siobhan66:

You should be fine, my friend climbs e1/6b with zero toes- she getsaid her rock shoes modded by a resoler to counter for the different shape
Andy Say - on 31 Dec 2016
In reply to siobhan66:

I had a big toe fusion about four years ago as a result of arthritis.
Pros - I climb better as I'm not worried about pain and instability. No problems with choosing shoes as the toe is now smaller!
Cons - harder to shuffle your foot into flip-flops Big toe is now a bit shorter than second toe so slightly different foot profile and can bash my second toe without thinking. Slight difference in smearing ability?

All in all there is nothing to worry about with the toe fusion. And I have found that my plate doesn't set off airport alarms either.
siobhan66 - on 31 Dec 2016
In reply to biped:

Hi biped,
Yes Andy Parkin is an inspiration, thanks for the link..I am in absolutely no way in the same league as Parkin in terms of his life and climbing experiences but as an artist I do understand the need to create and make and it is the one constant thing in my life that keeps me getting up everyday, that and my family of course!
siobhan66 - on 31 Dec 2016
In reply to ashtond6:

Hi ashtond6
Thanks for your reply, wow no toes, that's interesting. I will enquire with the resole people about possibilities once I get back to it.

Many thanks
siobhan66 - on 31 Dec 2016
In reply to Andy Say:

Hi Andy
Thanks for your reply, lucky you to have a smaller toe. Unfortunately mine will not be! I have screws in my heel too so they probably will set the airport alarms off, but that will only add to the fun, I'm sure

Good to hear your experiences though , smearing seems to be the one consistent problem, but I can live with that, no worries.

Thanks again.
skellymax - on 09 Jan 2017
In reply to siobhan66:

Hi (Siobhan),

Like you I am really looking forward to getting back climbing and generally more active. I had my left 1st MTP (big toe) joint operated on 7 weeks ago today and 2 screws put in. I'm back to see the consultant today, X-rays will be taken and he is expecting to see evidence of calcium bridging across the joint. I have been using crutches (abandoned them about 2 weeks ago) and a stiff soles medical sandal. It may be a bit early yet (to be advised) but I'm hoping to have the dressing removed and to be able to start gently using the foot without the sandal. I'm also going to ask what the outlook is for full healing/fusion, it may be ambitious but I'm aiming to get out towards the back end of winter for some climbing (if conditions are in), stiff soled mountaineering boots should help to provide support for the joint.

I have been venturing out on my bike a bit (local paths and cycle tracks), I've needed to do something because I've packed on a 'few' pounds and my fitness has dropped off. Don't know what I will be able to do in the future with regards to using the foot but as you would expect padding up gritstone slabs may be out of the question, although standing on edges may be easier - we shall see. The main thing is that the pain should be gone and I can carry on climbing, running, cycling etc.

I'll let you know how I get on today....

PS: How are things progressing with you?
siobhan66 - on 09 Jan 2017
In reply to skellymax:
Hi Skellymax
Oh I am envious! I have a long way to go yet, as I have had my ankle reconstructed, arch lowered and both big toe and middle toe fused. In a moon boot now and still on crutches..returning to work this week very part time phased return over the next 4 weeks. I don't think Ill see any climbing action until the end of May.
You sound hopeful and if you are walking unaided now that's great. I would go real easy though as the last thing you want is to cause more damage. I am interested to know how you get on with getting your foot into climbing shoes and how the actual climbing goes for you in terms of how it affects your foot work.
Dreaming of getting mobile again, I haven't put on any weight ( using crutches must burn calories and I was hopping alot before my cast was removed!!)but I feel pretty "unfit" generally, so I can empathize.

Good luck
Post edited at 17:28
tjhare1 - on 09 Jan 2017
In reply to siobhan66:

Hi. I had the toes adjacent to each big toe fused when I was in my mid-late teens. I was offered a Jones tendon transfer, but opted against it out of fear. As to how the fusions will affect you, I think that really depends on what/how you climb...

I've never been one for wearing tight rock shoes - I like to be comfy! Consequently, not being able to crush my toes into horribly downturned things hasn't proved a problem for my sort of grades (E2). It hasn't made a scrap of difference in big boots, so no issues there. The scar tissue can be a bit annoying in some shoes (post-op infection resulted in lumpiness). The only occasions on which I've found it to be at all annoying are when trying to find a tighter sport/wall climbing shoe: because the toes won't bend, the front of the boot has to be pretty low volume.

Ultimately though, it certainly won't stop you doing things. It might change things a bit, but its something that is completely adaptable to. Personally, I think you may well find the scarring the biggest problem, especially for long, hot days. But that's easy to get around with a bit of careful foot prep. Boots used to sell, and I think they still do, finger/toe-sized jelly-like socks wrapped in plaster-like material. These are great and can be cut to an appropriate length.
siobhan66 - on 09 Jan 2017
In reply to tjhare1:

Hi tjhare1
Thanks for your reply. The toe fusion seems very positive for everyone on here who has replied, and given the grades I am climbing at I should be fine...adaptation seems to be the key in everyone's case. I agree about having comfortable shoes, love my green anasazis but maybe I will have to go for something roomier down the line. I can see already a little bump on on of my toes.... didn't have a choice with the tendon transfer due to my heel and ankle problems. I'll check out that product you mentioned , I like the sound of it. Thanks for your advice.

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