What Are The Most Common Foot Surgeries?
The feet may be anatomically small, but they play a big role in helping us to get around. That’s why a foot injury or condition一even a mild one一can significantly reduce our quality of life.
Unfortunately, foot conditions are becoming a widespread public health problem affecting approximately 61% to 79% of the general population. Initially, a podiatrist or orthopedic specialist will utilize conservative treatment options to manage the foot problem.
However, if you the injury does not respond well to non-surgical techniques or if the symptoms worsen, your doctor may recommend foot surgery instead.
What are the different types of foot surgeries?
A foot surgery aims to reduce your foot and ankle pain, as well as restore proper biomechanics and function to improve mobility and independence. Doctors can use several different kinds of foot surgical techniques, but it will depend on your condition and its severity. Some of the most common foot surgeries include the following:
Achilles tendon repair
The Achilles tendon is a strong cord connecting the calf muscles to the heel. Even though it’s the largest tendon, it is still susceptible to partial or complete tears from major trauma. Additionally, the Achilles tendon may also suffer from wear and tear as a result of other conditions, such as tendinitis.
Damage in the Achilles tendon can cause severe pain, stiffness, swelling, and problems with mobility. An orthopedic surgeon may address this using Achilles tendon repair surgery, which may be done using a large incision or a minimally invasive procedure.
During the surgery, your surgeon can either remove the damaged parts or repair the tear using another tendon from another part of your body. They may even replace the whole Achilles tendon if there’s severe damage.
Foot fusion surgery
A joint fusion surgery refers to an invasive technique that involves joining two or more bones permanently. Physicians use it to treat degenerating cartilage, joints, and bones due to chronic arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, it may be used to correct flat feet and fractures that have healed improperly.
The surgery follows these general procedures:
- Your surgeon will put you under general anesthesia, then create an incision on the foot to access the affected joints.
- Next is the removal of the damaged joints and other affected soft tissues.
- An extra bone (autograft or allograft) may be needed as an anchor to stiffen and fuse the two healthy bones together.
- The fused bones will then be held together using metal plates and screws.
A foot fracture refers to a partial or complete break in the bones of the foot, which is commonly seen in the metatarsal bones. It can typically cause mild to severe pain, especially during physical activities. You may also experience swelling on top of the foot, tenderness, warmth, and bruising.
Normally, stress fractures can heal on their own after RICE therapy and an ample amount of rest. But for complex cases, surgery is needed to help the fracture heal properly. Fracture repair usually involves one or more of the following procedures:
- Internal fixation using metal screws or pins to restore proper bone position.
- Bone grafting to replace damaged bone tissues.
- Removing or repairing damaged soft tissues, such as tendons and ligaments.
Joint replacement or arthroplasty
Joint replacement in the foot is usually performed to treat injuries affecting the joint of the big toe or the first metatarsophalangeal. The operation involves removing the damaged joint section and creating a space to accommodate the new artificial joint. Once no bone debris is left, the new joint will be inserted in its proper position, and the incision will be closed.
Morton’s neuroma surgery
Morton’s neuroma refers to a foot condition affecting the bones between the toes or the metatarsals. It is characterized by the swelling and thickening of the tissues in the web spaces caused by nerve compression or irritation. This can cause the following symptoms:
- Sharp pain in the ball of the foot and/or toes.
- A sensation of “walking on pebbles” or “having marbles under the foot.”
- Numbness and tingling
- Limited mobility
The best treatment for a non-responsive Morton’s neuroma is the surgical removal of the diseased nerves. Your surgeon may also opt to decompress the swollen tissues surrounding the irritated nerve.
Reconstructive or corrective surgery is performed to repair foot deformities affecting the patient’s gait, balance, and mobility. Some examples of these conditions include hammertoe, severe corns, calluses, bunions, or chronic arthritic conditions.
During reconstructive surgery, an orthopedic specialist may utilize several different kinds of surgical techniques depending on the patient’s condition. This may involve osteotomy, arthrodesis, arthroplasty, fusion, or a combination of one or more of these methods.
Frequently asked questions about foot surgeries
What type of foot injuries require surgery?
Severe or complex foot injuries and conditions that do not improve with conservative treatment usually require surgery. Some examples include the following:
- Severe hammertoe, callus, corns, and bunions.
- Plantar fasciitis
- Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
- Tendon and ligament tears in the foot or ankle
- Morton’s neuroma
- Adult flat feet
- Heel spurs
- High-arched feet
- Complex fractures
Is foot surgery one of the most painful?
It’s important to remember that surgeries are a form of trauma in itself, which can inevitably cause varying degrees of pain or discomfort. However, there are several ways to manage pain during and after your procedure.
For example, doctors work with anesthesiologists all the time to keep the patient comfortable and pain-free during the operation. Your doctor may also prescribe pain medications to reduce your discomfort during the recovery phase.
But one thing’s for sure一the surgery can help reduce foot pain and other symptoms and improve overall mobility.
Is foot surgery considered major surgery?
Foot and ankle surgeries are not usually considered major surgeries. Most procedures are done on an outpatient basis, which means that patients don’t need to stay overnight in the surgical facility.
Additionally, most foot surgeries only take at least an hour to perform. It will only become lengthy for complex conditions or reconstructive surgeries.
How long is the recovery time for foot surgery?
Patients who underwent foot surgery may have varying recovery times depending on the severity of their injury and the procedure performed.
Here’s a general rundown of what recovery may be like after your foot surgery:
- 4 to 6 weeks of no weight-bearing on the operated foot. You may also be prescribed to wear a splint or cast and use crutches.
- After 12 weeks, tenderness and swelling may start to resolve. You may also go back to your normal routine or daily activities.
- Full recovery will take at least a year or more.
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Get a proper consultation and high-quality treatment services with the help of our board-certified Raleigh orthopedic surgeons. Call Raleigh Orthopaedic Surgery Center at 919-719-3070 for more information.
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.