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Foot Surgery: When Is It Needed, and What Can I Expect?

November 17, 2008

There are times when problems in the feet such as deformities, injuries, deficient biomechanics, and other disorders can be so severe that the only solution to pain or other untenable condition is foot surgery.  However, even when it is of a minor nature, foot surgery may also be recommended to eliminate foot pain faster and effectively. Foot surgery may be advised by podiatrists or practitioners who specialize in treatment for foot problems.

There are many foot problems that can be advised for surgery. One could be bunions, where severe cases cannot be treated by mere use of orthotics or insoles. A diabetic foot may also require foot surgery to prevent further complications caused by the disease. Still, there could be minor injuries that cannot be solved by simple therapy or orthotics alone, but may require a surgical procedure.

Foot Surgery: Considerations

Foot surgery can be done either as in-patient or out-patient, depending on the nature and complexity of the surgery.  Before foot surgery is performed, there are several steps that must be taken, such as:

  • Referral to Specialist. For most foot problems, a general practitioner may refer the case to a specialist on foot problems, regarded in medical circles as a podiatrist.  The foot’s anatomy is extremely complicated, so it is important that the patient research and obtain advice from other experts, as they specialize in other factors influencing foot health such as balancing, movements and flexes, and other foot functions.
  • Studying the Case. The practitioner(s) evaluate the case before they can conclude the need for surgery. Oftentimes, the case is discussed with the patient, surgeon, or any other concerned party so that appropriate expectations are established.  If the problem can just be treated by simpler methods such as therapy or wearing arch supports or orthotic insoles, then surgery may not be necessary. Nevertheless, it will be up to the patient or medical practitioners and surgeons to determine if a surgery is necessary.
  • Scheduling Surgery. In case surgery seems to be the most suitable solution to solve the foot problem or provide permanent relief for foot pain, the surgeon identifies the procedure to be performed, since there are many surgical procedures available for different types of foot conditions.  For instance, solving severe pain caused by bunions may require not just one procedure, but a combination of two or three surgeries.
  • Considering Patient Status.  Aside from the surgeon’s expertise in the surgical  foot procedure to be performed, the patient’s status is also highly considered. The patient’s age, health, and lifestyle has a strong influence on the success or failure of the surgery.

 

What to Expect

After foot surgery, it is inevitable that patients experience a certain level of discomfort.  This is temporary, but it has different durations depending on many factors.  Depending on the type of surgery done, the person’s feet must be put at rest for lengthy periods of time.  There may also be recommended foot pain relief programs, as the patient will experience varying degrees of pain after the surgery.

If the time has come for the patient to start walking, the patient must support the surgery with proper use of orthotics. This is important because orthotics are usually worn to correct the foot’s biomechanics. Without properly designed orthotics, the stress on the feet may cause further problems. Surgeons or experts in podiatry can recommend the appropriate orthotics for every specific case.

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