Foot surgery is typically recommended to correct a deformity, reduce pain, or restore function to the foot. Most types of foot surgery are elective and reserved as a final treatment option for conditions that can't be treated otherwise or do not respond to nonsurgical treatments. Below are some of the most common foot problems that often require surgical intervention.
A bunion — or hallux valgus — is a bony growth or protrusion where the big toe joins the rest of the foot bones. Bunions usually affect women and may be painful enough to make it difficult to wear shoes or walk. While over-the-counter anti-inflammatories and pain medication may relieve the pain and discomfort of a bunion, bunions will get progressively worse over time and may lead to more serious problems without treatment.
Bunion surgery may involve cutting the ligament of the big toe joint to realign it and/or shaving the excess bone growth to restore function of the big toe and relieve pain.
Achilles Tendon Surgery
The Achilles tendon is the body's longest tendon, running down the lower leg and connecting to the heel bone. Tendonosis and tendonitis are two common conditions that affect the Achilles tendon, resulting in pain in the back of the heel or tenderness. There are many causes of Achilles tendon problems, although an injury is often the result of a sudden increase in weight-bearing stress, such as during sports or running.
Surgical intervention for Achilles tendonitis requires removing the damaged part of the tendon or lengthening the tendon or calf muscles if the tendon is pulled too tight.
Hammer toe Surgery
Hammer toe is a very common condition that affects the joints of the smaller toes. An irregularity of the tendons or muscles causes the toes to pull up over time. In its early stages, the irritation and discomfort of hammer toe can be treated with non-invasive options like anti-inflammatory medication, orthotics, and padding. Unfortunately, hammer toes tend to worsen over time and may require surgical intervention.
There are several surgical procedures that correct hammer toe. For example, the joint beneath the toe may be removed completely or in part or tendons may be re-routed to straighten the toes.
There are several more conditions that may require surgery, including ingrown toenails, arthritis, and foot fractures.
Recovering from Foot Surgery
Most foot procedures have a very high success rate that's usually over 85-95%, although the recovery process can be uncomfortable. Most surgeries require staying off your feet and limiting activity for at least two weeks. You may need to wear a surgical boot for a few weeks followed by a brace, although there's a very good chance the surgery will dramatically reduce your pain and restore function to your foot and ankle.
If you're suffering from foot pain and don't get relief from non-invasive treatments, it may be time to discuss foot surgery with your doctor.