Our feet help us to stay active all through the day. The entire weight of our body is carried on them. So, even if there is a mild swelling or tenderness in the feet, our lifestyle gets badly affected by it. Foot surgery is needed when there is a major problem in them. It can arise due to several reasons. A congenital defect, severe injury or diseases like arthritis. Besides, a poorly fitted footwear can cause extensive damage in the feet. Surgeries are carried out by podiatric surgeons. They have special training in the surgical procedures concerned with the feet. They opt for surgical methods of treatment only when the feet problem gives a lot of pain and discomfort and badly disrupts normal life activities of the patient.
The toes and the ankle joints are under maximum pressure owing to our body weight. For this reason, these joints are prone to arthritis. It leads to pain, swelling and stiffening up of the joints and sometimes, deformity. There are mainly two different procedures for arthritis. One is arthroplasty, in which a damaged portion of the affected joint is removed. It could be one of the two bones that forms the joint or a part of the cartilage. In certain cases, where the damaged joint has turned stiff and painful, an artificial joint or a joint spacer is inserted. As a result, the patient gets relief from the pain and at the same time, mobility of the foot also improves. The second procedure is known as fusion. It is performed where due to degeneration of the cartilage, two bones of the joint are constantly pressing against each other, making the joint movement painful. As it is not possible to create new cartilage, the bones are fused together after the removal of worn out cartilage.
Bunion is a kind of deformity where a bump is formed on the connecting bone between the big toe and the first bone of the foot (or metatarsal). The bump consists of soft tissues and bones. It occurs mainly because of wearing of ill-fitting shoes. Other causes are diseases like polio or arthritis and sometimes, it's hereditary. Due to the abnormal turn of the toe, the ligament and tendon in the region become tight on one side and loose on the other. If the bunion is not painful, then some nonsurgical measures can take care of it. Or else, it is rectified with the help of various surgical procedures. One method of surgery is osteotomy where ligaments of the toe joint are realigned by surgically cutting the tissues. As a result, the loose ligaments become tight and the tight ones are loosened up. If the toe joint is badly damaged, then it is removed by a surgery called arthrodesis. When the toe bone is enlarged, the bump formed at the joint is eliminated by a surgery called exostectomy. However, it is not a very effective surgical method to rectify bunion.
Ankle sprains occur as tears develop in the ligament. The function of the ligament is to join two adjacent bones of the ankle joint. Thus, the ligament prevents the bones from moving in wrong directions. A severe injury or strain in the ligaments make them loose, which causes repeated sprains. As a result, the alignment of the bones get affected. Surgery is required to straighten the bones and stabilize the ankle. There are different procedures which are used to correct this problem and are collectively known as lateral ankle stabilization. For adding stability to the ankle, a piece of tendon is taken from anywhere near the ankle area and is used to create an extended ankle ligament. In case, there is some bone deformity, which is responsible for frequent ankle sprains, surgical removal of the wedge of the heel bone is needed. In this way, the foot gets straightened.
Flatfoot is a deformity in which the arch of the foot is closed and the entire sole of the foot touches the ground. This results in pain, unstable joints and it makes walking difficult. Doctors first try to rectify it with the help of muscle training and exercises. If these measures fail to show any results, then only the option of surgery is availed. It is usually done in the adolescent age. The procedure involves creation of an arch in the foot. A successful surgery provides permanent solution to the problem. Doctors avoid this invasive procedure because its recovery time is quite long and is highly expensive.
Hammertoe is a type of deformity where the toe looks like a hammer or claw, due to abnormal bending. It develops after wearing of ill-fitting footwear like shoes with high heels or shoes smaller than the actual length of the feet. This condition leads to unbearable pain in the toes, which can be relieved by the means of surgery. It involves making a narrow incision in the toe area and removing a section of the bone in order to straighten the toe joint. If required, the length of the tendon at the joint is increased during the procedure.
When the toenail grows into the flesh of the toe, it is known as ingrown toenail. As a result, the toe swells up and becomes extremely painful. It could be hereditary or due to some deformities in toe. It can also be acquired because of wearing of poor fitting shoes. The surgical procedure for removal of ingrown nail is known as partial nail avulsion with matrixectomy. Here, the ingrown part of the toenail is removed after splitting the affected nail vertically. In order to stop the regrowth of the corner of the operated nail, a chemical substance like sodium hydroxide is applied. This will make the nail matrix dead. It is carried out under local anesthesia and patients can resume work immediately. There could be some occasional drainage after the surgery which can be managed by putting a band-aid on the affected area.
Warts are elevated blemishes on the skin surface that occur due to viral infection. People want to remove warts either to prevent it from getting spread or for cosmetic reasons. The surgical procedure is not very complicated and local anesthesia is used for this purpose. However, it can leave behind a painful scar which requires a long time to heal up. After the surgery, there is a high risk of infection in the area and hence, one has to keep the foot in complete dry condition for several weeks which means, no showers. If the size of the wart is big or there are a number of warts, then surgery is not the best option, as the skin may look defective. Moreover, surgery cannot stop recurrence of warts. For all these reasons, warts should be first treated with medicines and acid treatment and surgery should be the last resort.
The recovery time depends on the seriousness of the underlying problem. In some cases, patients are given a surgical footwear which they have to wear to ensure proper recuperation. Post-operative complications may arise when it is done on elderly patients or diabetic patients. Hence, it is important that the surgery is performed by some experienced podiatrist surgeons only.