Every day the feet are subjected to a lot of stress as they bear the weight of the body. When well taken care of, they allow a person to engage in work and play situations with great comfort and ease. However, problems may arise that will require the services of a podiatric surgeon trained specifically to perform surgery on the ankles and feet.
Foot and ankle problems are quite common. They may be congenital, acquired due to improper footwear, results of traumatic injuries, infection or caused by arthritis
There are some foot problems that do not necessarily need surgery like having calluses, foot corns or even flat feet. However, for those problems that cause increased pain and discomfort, surgery may be the best solution. Some of the more common foot surgery procedures are done on:
- Ingrown toenail - a toenail that grows inward towards the flesh of the toe. This condition may be inherited, due to toe deformities or injuries, over-curvature of toenails, an imbalance between the nail bed and nail plate, wearing of tight ill-fitting shoes or by simply continuously cutting the nails too short or not in a straight line.
- Bunion – an abnormal bony protrusion that usually occurs on the joint at the base of the big toe. As it grows, the pressure exerted by the big toe crowding against the rest of the toes produces pain and discomfort. Wearing tight fitting shoes is the common culprit. However, arthritis or inherited defects can also cause bunions. Severe cases require bunion surgery.
- Arthritic joints - can cause swelling, joint stiffness, pain and even foot deformity. If untreated, arthritis can weaken the joints by wearing away the cartilage between the bones. Because the body’s weight puts pressure on the toe and ankle joints, the foot is more susceptible to arthritis. Chronic arthritis may require ankle surgery to reconstruct the joint when medications and physical therapy no longer work.
- Ankle sprains (injury to ankle ligaments) and foot fractures (broken bones) - don’t necessarily require surgery. However, when severe swelling and pain persists or misaligned bones need to be straightened, the solution will most likely be an operation.
- Hammertoes - usually caused by shoes that are too short for the length of the feet or heels that are too high. The toe becomes unusually curved at the middle toe joint. It takes on a hammer-like or claw-like appearance as a result of constant unnatural bending of the toe towards the front of the shoe. Changing the footwear or wearing shoe inserts may relieve the pain from this condition. However, for unbearable pain, surgery becomes the best option. Surgery may involve making a small incision in the toe to release the tendon or removing part of the bone to straighten the toe.
- Warts - caused by a virus but do not usually require treatment. Removal may be done to prevent spreading or for cosmetic purposes. Over-the-counter medication is usually used to treat warts. But for stubborn warts, minor surgery or laser surgery can be performed.
You can find descriptions of other types of foot surgery online. There are even actual videos of different foot operations on the web. If you have a foot problem, it is best to consult a podiatrist or general practitioner.
Most foot surgery may be done in the doctor’s office or as an outpatient procedure. Healing time is dependent upon the severity of the problem. The surgeon will provide you with everything you need to know after the surgery and how to avoid foot problems in the future.