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Most Successful Outcome

Linda Mitchell has been a competitive Ballroom and Latin dancer for the past nine years. In 2011, Linda started to experience pain in her right big toe joint.  At first, she was dismissive, believing that she could not expect to dance without pain and thought the most likely explanation was either bunion pain or uncomfortable dance shoes. The thought of anything preventing her from being able to continue dancing, felt more painful than living with physical pain.  Linda continued with her dancing, but over the next couple of years the pain became worse, affecting not just dancing, but walking in general. During an attempt to find a comfortable shoe, a dance shoe expert advised Linda to see her doctor believing that the condition was more serious than just ill-fitting shoes.   
By October 2014, Linda was referred by her GP for x-rays, which diagnosed hallux rigidus, severe arthritis of the big toe joint. Hallux rigidus is a degenerative arthritic condition, whereby the joint loses its mobility, becomes very inflamed and painful.  Linda had managed to dance through the earlier stages of this condition; her most recommended treatment would be fusion. A fusion of the big toe joint, whilst removing all pain, would mean that Linda would lose all mobility in the big toe and restrict her dancing at a competitive level. 
Linda rejected a fusion, but with discussion with her surgeon made the decision to have a cheiloctomy, an operation normally carried out in earlier stages of hallux rigidus, where it is perceived to have a higher success rate. The cheilectomy operation was performed on 17th April 2015. This process involves removing the bone spurs and cleaning the joint up completely. Linda recovered well from this operation, but was not offered post-surgery care in the form of physiotherapy and advice in order to ensure the most successful outcome of this operation. Linda felt quite depressed at the lack of information and feared that she would not be able to return to dancing from information given at post-operative appointments with the surgeon. 
During this post-op recovery time, Linda found the Dance Again Foundation.  She requested a referral from her GP, but felt the Foundation might be for professional dancers only. She was delighted when she received an appointment to meet with Dr Julian Widdowson Consultant in Sports and Exercise Medicine and his team in July 2015. Dr Widdowson and his physiotherapy team advised Linda on how to manage her condition and suitable exercises to strengthen her core and other parts of the body, including ankles in order to provide greater support to her feet. Reassurance, information and support were given to enable Linda to regain her confidence in being able to dance again.
Hallux-rigidus is sadly a degenerative condition, but despite this Linda feels Dr Widdowson and his team have enabled her to continue with her dancing life. Not only is she dancing again, she is training to compete at the British National Championships in Blackpool! As such, Linda cannot recommend the work of Dr Widdowson and the Dance Again Foundation highly enough and feels that because of them she has a very important part of her life back. 

If you would like to find out more or book an appointment, please call us on +44 (0)20 7234 2009 or email GPLiaisonLBH@hcahealthcare.co.uk. Click here to visit Dr Julian Widdowson’s web profile. 

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