When Foot Surgery Is Unavoidable
Human feet are composed of 26 bones and 33 joints, intricately working together to provide support and motion to the body. Everything from the heel to the ankle to the arch and the toes can be flexible and be prone to injury. Most foot injuries won’t require surgery, but only a doctor can make the determination.
Foot conditions that can require surgery
A number of foot conditions can require foot surgery. Foot conditions such as bunions, hammertoes, achilles tendon disorders, and Morton’s neuroma can require surgical intervention. One of the most common types of conditions that can require foot surgery are ankle arthritis and plantar fasciitis.
Ending the bone wear of ankle arthritis
Osteoarthritis can usually lead to ankle arthritis if left untreated. The condition happens when the cartilage cushioning the bones breaks down and allows the bone to grind on bone. Severe cases of ankle arthritis can require surgery, including one of the following:
- An ankle fusion removes the damaged joint and fuses the talus bone to the tibia. The surgery stiffens the area but removes the pain. Recovery can take up to 12 weeks.
- A triple fusion fuses three joints: the subtalar, talonavicular, and calcaneocuboid joints. This surgery attempts to reduce arthritis and improve a stiff foot deformity.
- An ankle replacement replaces the damaged tibia and talus ends with a man-made bone end made from metal or plastic. The procedure allows patients to move the joint after a full recovery, but the artificial bone ends can wear away over time.
Healing the heel damage of plantar fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis occurs when the fibrous band extending from the heel bone to the toes becomes inflamed. Only a small percentage of plantar fasciitis cases require foot surgery. Nonsurgical treatment usually involves the RICE method including icing the area and rest. Heel surgery may be necessary for pain lasting six to 12 months with home treatment.
Should you get foot surgery?
Only a doctor can recommend foot surgery if needed. The main advantage of receiving foot surgery is an end to the debilitating pain that lowers a patient’s quality of life. Receiving foot surgery can return the patient’s flexibility and mobility to continue living a fulfilling life.
Avoiding surgery with alternative treatments
For many foot problems, a range of treatment methods can improve the pain, inflammation, and stiffness associated with early ankle arthritis and plantar fasciitis symptoms. A doctor or specialist may recommend exercise, proper foot care, pain medication, special shoes, or even steroids to reduce chronic pain. The treatment plan will cater to the patient’s unique symptoms and lifestyle.