Worse pain in foot and ankle, swelling or not able to walk properly?

No worries.

It is necessary to know about the surgical process when it is needed and how it is done.

Hello, this is  Dr. Anil K Sharma, a well known orthopedic cum arthroscopic surgeon from Jaipur. Presently, I am working as an Arthroscopic, Joint Replacement, Foot and Ankle Surgeon specialist in Sawai Man Singh Hospital, Jaipur(SMS).

In this article, you will get to know about the complete information about foot and ankle surgery process and recovery tips.

First, we need to understand how does foot and ankle function?

There are 26 bones and more than 33 joints in our feet. The foot is divided into 3 blocks.

  1. Forefoot (The front part of the foot)
  2. Midfoot (The middle part of the foot)
  3. Hindfoot (The back part of the foot)

Please find the complex structure of bones and joints in the foot.

There are 3 main work of the foot.

  1. Weight Transmission-
  2. Balance Posture
  3. Assist Ambulation

Lower leg muscles are attached to bones in your feet by tendons, and they control movement that make us capable to stand, walk, and jump. These muscles move your toes and control the position of your foot as it touches the ground, allowing it to become flexible.

Your heel bone is connected to the calf muscles in your lower leg by your Achilles tendon. The tibialis posterior tendon, which attaches the underside of your foot to your lower leg, supports the arch of your foot and allows you to turn it inward.

 

The main nerve of your foot controls the muscles in your sole and gives feeling here and to your toes. Other nerves give feeling to the top and outside edge of your foot.

When do you need foot and ankle surgery?

It depends on many factors that we should go with the operation or not? because in many cases we don’t need surgery. So I am listing some points below when you are supposed to consult with a doctor.

  • Your pain is getting worse
  • High joint pain during or after exercise
  • Not comfortable to walk properly
  • Bunion: bone size increment and tissue around the toe
  • Joint swelling and redness
  • Blisters
  • Corns
  • Neuroma: nerve enlargement
  • Bone spur: an overgrowth of bone as a result of pressure, trauma or stress of a ligament or tendon
  • history of the previous injury to the joint
  • not able to climb stairs

If you are experiencing one or more above listed symptoms then discuss with your healthcare professional.

If your doctor advises you for the operation then you may be nervous or scared but if you will understand about the whole procedure then it will help you to get free from worries and will keep you relaxed.

Common types of foot and ankle surgery:-

  • Ankle Arthroscopy
  • Bunion surgery
  • Hammer toe surgery

Ankle arthroscopy:-  Ankle arthroscopy, is used to treat conditions that cause pain or decreased flexibility of the ankle joint.

The ankle is the joint that connects the leg and the foot. The ankle joint includes the two lower leg bones, called the tibia and the fibula, and the ankle bone called the talus. Tissues called ligaments and tendons support the ankle bones. The ankle joint allows the foot to move up and down.

A variety of conditions can cause pain or decreased flexibility of the ankle joint. Abnormal bone growths, called bone spurs, may have formed, impinging on the ankle joint as it moves.

The surgeon will begin by making several tiny incisions, or portals, in the ankle. A small tube called a cannula will be placed into one of the incisions. A scope will be passed through the cannula to allow the surgeon to see inside the joint area. The scope contains a tiny camera that will project the image of the ankle joint onto a TV monitor for the surgeon to watch.

A bone spur will be removed. Excess tissue will be removed from a thick scarred ligament. Loose pieces of cartilage floating in the joint will be removed. Infection in the ankle joint will be cleaned out by washing the joint with fluid.

Once the treatment is finished the sterile saline will be drilled out of the 32 joint, the instruments will be removed, and the incisions will be closed with stitches.

Bunion surgery:- Most common types of bunion removal procedures are:-

  • Osteotomy
  • Exostectomy
  • Arthrodesis

Osteotomy:-  In this process, the surgeon cuts the big toe joint and realign it to a normal position.
Exostectomy:- In this process, the surgeon removes the bunion from the joint without doing an alignment.
Arthrodesis:- In arthrodesis surgeon correct the deformity by replacing the damaged joint with screws or metal plates.
Your foot is bandaged after the surgery. In the recovery room, the patient’s B.P. and heart rate will be monitored.

It takes a couple of hours to get done and recovered after that you can go home.

Hammer toe surgery:-  Most common types of bunion removal procedures are:-

  • Arthroplasty
  • Arthrodesis

Arthroplasty:-  In arthroplasty deformed joint is removed which is in between your toe bones.
Arthrodesis:- In arthrodesis patient’s toe bones fused together.

Both surgical processes take a maximum of 1 hour. The patient should not walk much for the first 3 days.

Stitches are removed in 2 to 3 weeks after surgery and after that, another dressing is done for 2 to 6 weeks.

The main advantages of foot and ankle surgery:-

  • alleviation of pain
  • You will be able to walk, stand and run without pain
  • Deformity removal
  • Mobility and movement with comfort
  • Foot and ankle pain will e reduced.
  • You can again play sports etc.

Alternatives to surgery:- Alternatives to foot and ankle surgery includes

  • Exercise
  • Foot care
  • Drug treatment,
  • and specially modified shoes.