Elaine Fanning


I was first diagnosed with Hallux Rigidus (stiff big toe) on 9/24/2012 by an orthopedic doctor after experiencing soreness of my right big toe. After trying conservative treatments to manage it, I was told the only way to truly stop the degeneration of the toe joint was a cheilectomy surgery.

I was not interested in surgery and continued to manage the discomfort by using orthopedic shoes, ice and NSAIDS. Having a high pain tolerance, I ignored the pain. I began focusing on the other joint pains that were bothering me: herniated spinal discs, and deteriorating knee menisci. In 2016, I had a two-level spinal fusion. In 2017, I had a meniscectomy as well as meniscus reattachment surgery. Toe surgery was the least of my worries.

However, in 2018, as I continued ignoring the slow worsening my big toe joint, I realized that I could no longer wear heels comfortably, and that my foot was continuously sore after each day at work. I revisited the orthopedic doctor, who told me that the degeneration had worsened and that I would need a big toe fusion. I decided that I would eventually have to have surgery to “fix” my problem. However, I kept procrastinating scheduling a date for surgery.

Months later, the pain in my toe could be felt on every step I took, and the mundane task of walking my dog became a terrible chore. I also began feeling increased pain in my second toe which was curling up and around the big toe. This also led to pain beneath the ball of my foot. Doing my favorite yoga stretch, the downward dog, was very uncomfortable, and I knew I had to do something soon.

In 2019, I was eventually referred to Dr. Jordan Stewart, a cousin of my husband’s clients, and a well-regarded podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon. Upon meeting Dr. Stewart, I felt completely comfortable with him. He is the only doctor that I have experience with who never made me feel rushed. He took the time to explain the mechanics of the entire foot and went into great detail about the procedures he would perform to rid the pain that I had been tolerating for so many years. He explained the surgery, the recovery, and eventually how life would be like after getting your big toe joint fused. As a person who is also very detailed oriented, I knew Dr. Stewart was the perfect fit.

Then Covid-19 happened. All elective surgeries had to be cancelled for most of 2020.

It wasn’t until December of 2020 that I finally was able to schedule surgery, and I was relieved to have done so. I had my big toe joint fused with a screw, my 2nd toe fused with a wire, my 2nd metatarsal cut and shortened and secured with a screw, and a calf release to help me have greater range of motion. All went well, but I received the shocking news from Dr. Stewart that he discovered gout tophi in my big toe. He showed his concern by sending me for bloodwork and referring me to a rheumatologist.

Almost 3 months post op, I suddenly experienced my first real gout attack of near my pink toe. The pain gradually became unbearable, and Dr. Stewart was kind enough to come into in his office on a Sunday afternoon as an emergency appointment. He administered a steroid shot, which was a huge relief, but stated that shots are strictly used no more than twice as emergency treatment. I truly appreciated him coming in on the weekend to get me through this very painful episode.

I have fully recovered after surgery and am being seen by the rheumatologist to manage my gout. All I can say is that Dr. Jordan Stewart gave my life back by repairing a problem that I had been suffering with for almost a decade. He is always very encouraging, empathetic, and extremely knowledgeable.

I am now able to be active again by walking, running, strength training, and once again, am back to stretching in my favorite downward facing dog pose. I’m one happy patient!

Elaine Fanning

* Results may vary from person to person