In some chronic musculoskeletal conditions, patients with persistent pain and disability have still achieved recovery through behavioral adaptations (readjustment) or cognitive coping (redefinition). Although the pendulum shift from physician-reported clinical indicators to patient-reported outcomes measures (PROMs) has recently focused on quantifying residual pain and disability to determine recovery (resolution), whether patients are capable of coping with any ongoing deficits and achieving other forms of recovery has not been considered. We performed a retrospective case series to assess patient-perceived recovery and outcomes after silastic implant arthroplasty for hallux rigidus. From July 2006 to July 2016, 28 patients at a single institution were enrolled. PROMs were prospectively obtained and compared between patients considering themselves recovered without or with residual deficits (recovered-resolved, recovered-not resolved) and those not recovered. Holistic satisfaction, procedure-specific satisfaction, complications, reoperations, and failure rates were recorded. Overall, 50.0% perceived themselves as recovered-resolved, 43% as recovered-not resolved, and 7% as not recovered. The mean modified Foot Function Index was 17.26, the verbal analog scale for pain score was 2.03, and implant survivorship 100% at a median of 67 (interquartile range 28.4 to 103.5) months. Although only 50% of patients reported complete symptom resolution, satisfaction was high, and most perceived themselves as recovered, suggesting recovery in hallux rigidus might not always be predicated by the complete resolution of all symptomatology. Although PROMs relying on pain inference and functional disability will continue to be utilized with increasing frequency, foot and ankle surgeons should be cognizant of their inherent limitations in assessing other forms of recovery.
Level of Clinical Evidence: 4