Procedure helps SWFL woman get back to dancing

Published: September 6, 2018 4:35 PM EDT
Updated: September 6, 2018 6:22 PM EDT

Suzanne Matthews loves learning new steps in the dance studio.

“The music makes me crazy! It makes me happy! It’s a happy time,” Matthews said.

But two months ago, all of that came to a halt.

“It was very painful; it felt like bone was rubbing on bone,” Matthews said.

Dancing like this is something she’s done for years. When she had to stop, it was like a part of her was being taken away.

“I thought, what is wrong? I can’t wear my dance shoes, and I just bought three new pairs,” Matthews said.

That’s when she went to see Dr. Steven Anthony, an orthopedic surgeon in Port Charlotte. He said the culprit was arthritis in Matthew’s toe.

“Dancers are definitely more prone to it, because there’s so much force on that toe,” Dr. Anthony said.

The solution? A synthetic form of cartilage called Cartiva.

“What happens now is as that cup rolls up and down the ball, there’s a gel pad in there,” Dr. Anthony said. “That’s all it is.”

It’s not metal or plastic, but polyvinal alcohol, according to Dr. Anthony.

The procedure, approved by the Food and Drug Administration, takes about 20 minutes to put in your toe, and has minimal risks.

“When you go in for surgery, you’re always going to have the risk of infection,” Dr. Anthony said. “You’re going to have a risk of a nerve or artery or something damaged.”

Dr. Anthony says you can walk normally again in as little as two weeks, which is exactly what Matthews did.

“And now I’m wearing higher heels,” Matthews said. “Oh, I’m so happy. I’m so happy. I can’t live without dancing.”

Getting back to the thing she loves one step at a time.

Dr. Anthony says the procedure is covered by most insurance companies. It has a 92 percent success rate, much better than traditional producers involving removing or fusing bones together.