New drug to help stiff deal for big toes

New drug to help stiff deal for big toes

19 Jan 2009

Ignore it, love it or loathe it your big toe is a little multi-tasker.  It bends every time you take a step, withstanding stress equal to twice your body mass.  And its responsible for providing balance, weight distribution and thrust while you walk.

It is best to keep an eye on big toesUnfortunately, this wear and tear can cause osteoarthritis in the big toe joint. The condition is progressive, with the toes range of motion gradually decreasing until it can become stiff, severely hampering your ability to walk.

In light of this, La Trobe University is conducting a study to see if a new drug, Synvisc, is effective in reducing the pain associated with this condition. The study is looking for people who have experienced pain or stiffness in the big toe joint for at least three months.  Each participant will receive a free course of treatment valued at $700.

Dr Shannon Munteanu from La Trobe Universitys Division of Allied Health Podiatry Clinic says statistics show that 40% of people over 50 have some form of arthritis in their foot, with osteoarthritis in the big toe most prevalent. Sufferers often try alternative medicines ranging from glucosamine tablets to shark cartilage to alleviate pain despite the fact there is little evidence to support the claim that the either is effective.

  "Sufferers are often told there isnt much that can be done about the pain," says Dr Munteanu

"I describe this new line of anti-arthritic drugs like giving your joints an oil change," says Dr Munteanu. "I think it is the best non-surgical method of treatment at the moment, and has been shown to be effective in two of three recipients with results lasting up to a year."

Early signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis in the joint of the big toe include pain and stiffness during use aggravated by cold, damp weather, difficulty running and squatting, and swelling and inflammation around the joint.  People with fallen arches or excessive rolling in of the ankles are particularly susceptible.

Participants in the study will be randomly allocated to receive either the anti-arthritis treatment (Synvisc) or a placebo. They will be required to attend three one-hour sessions over six months at the Universitys  main Melbourne campus in Bundoora

If you are interested, please contact Dr Shannon Munteanu, Department of Podiatry, La Trobe University,  tel: (03) 9479 5866 or email: s.munteanu@latrobe.edu.au for more details.


Media enquires: Mikhaela Delahunty on 03 9479 5353

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