I'm writing to let everyone know how pleased I am with the big toe fusion I had four months ago (March 2011). I am 63 years old. I am now able to walk w/o pain. I had a severely arthritic toe joint that had gotten progressively worse and more painful over the years. I am walking now for exercise, over a mile a day. I can now wear shoes I couldn't wear before - not HIGH heels, but 1-inch heels.
The recovery from this surgery does take patience, as I needed to be non-weight bearing for six weeks, and then there is a fairly long recovery period after the cast comes off, as the tendons that have been immobilized heal. But for me it was well worth it!
For anyone who is considering this surgery and is afraid, I would say go for it! My surgeon was a podiatric surgeon with Kaiser (in California) and he knew what he was doing. From what he told me, this surgery is still the gold standard for hallux rigidus. (Joint replacement surgeries have not yet been perfected and haven't had good results, according to my surgeon.)
I wish good foot health to everyone!