New synthetic cartilage offers hope for those with Osteoarthritis

DALLAS (WIVB) — Many women love high heels, but sporting all that fashionable footwear can lead to Osteoarthritis of the big toe and painful surgery.

A new alternative is offering shorter recovery times and bones that function closer to normal.

Until recently, the only option was a surgery that left patients with long recoveries and permanent loss of motion in their big toes.

A new, FDA-approved procedure is using the Cartiva implant — a synthetic cartilage that’s made of the same material as contact lenses and inserted into bones.

Doctors say it acts as a shock absorber.

“It attracts water, so it has a slippery feel to it,” Dr. John Early, a surgeon, said. “So, it allows things to move freely.”

The implant is currently approved in the U.S. for the big toes, but doctors in Europe are also using it in patients suffering arthritis in other small joints in the hand and foot.

The procedure takes about 30 minutes.

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