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When Is Foot, Ankle Surgery Necessary?

September 30, 2013
By Dr. Bruce G. Blank , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

There are certain foot and ankle conditions that are so severe that surgery is necessary as a primary treatment choice. Many other conditions may respond to conservative treatment. However, when these treatments don't result in adequate relief of pain or deformity, surgery may be appropriate to alleviate discomfort or to restore foot function.

Types of Foot and Ankle Surgery

Fusions: Fusions are usually performed to treat arthritic conditions or severe deformities of the foot and ankle. A fusion involves removing all cartilage from a joint and then joining two or more bones together so they do not move. Fusions can be done using screws, plates or pins or a combination of these.

Tendon Surgery: Surgery on tendons can be performed for treatment of acute injuries such as ruptures but is also done to lengthen or shorten tendons, depending upon the problem. In some cases, tendons may be re-routed to improve foot and ankle function.

Metatarsal Surgery: Surgery on the lesser metatarsals is performed for a variety of reasons but is commonly done to redistribute the weight bearing on the ball of the foot. In some severe cases, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, surgery may involve removing metatarsal heads (the bones in the ball of the foot area) in order to relieve pain.

Bunion Surgery: There are many different types of bunion surgery options depending upon the severity of the pain, deformity and joint involvement. The podiatric foot and ankle surgeon can explain the bunion procedure which is most appropriate for you. Depending upon the surgery, the recovery time can be very different.

Hammer Toe Surgery: Hammer toe surgery may involve removing a portion of the toe bone to realign the toe or can involve fusing the toe joint (see Fusions, above).

Neuroma Surgery: Neuroma surgery involves removing a benign painful enlargement of a nerve, usually between the metatarsal heads at the ball of the foot. The soft tissue surgery tends to have a shorter recovery time than bone procedures.

Heel Surgery: Based on the condition and the chronic nature of the disease, heel surgery can provide relief of pain and restore mobility in many cases. The type of procedure is based upon examination and frequently consists of plantar fascia release and/or removal of a heel spur.. There have been various modifications and surgical enhancements regarding surgery of the heel. The podiatric surgeon is best suited to advise you on the appropriate option.

Reconstructive Surgery: Reconstructive surgery of the foot and ankle consists of complex surgical repair(s) that may be necessary to regain function or stability, reduce pain, and/or prevent further deformity or disease. Unfortunately, there are many conditions or diseases that range from trauma to congenital defects that necessitate surgery of the foot or ankle.

Reconstructive surgery may require any of the following: tendon repair/ transfer, fusion of bone, joint implantation, bone grafting, skin or soft tissue repair, tumor excision, amputation and/or cutting of bone.

Bone screws, pins, wires, staples and other fixation devices and casts may be utilized to stabilize and repair bone in reconstructive procedures.

Dr. Bruce G. Blank is a podiatrist who specializes in conservative and surgical treatment of foot and ankle conditions.

He is Board Certified in Reconstructive Foot and Ankle Surgery by the American Board of Podiatric Surgery and Board Certified in Podiatric Orthopedics by the American Board of Podiatric Medicine.

He has hospital privileges at EORH, OVMC and Wheeling Hospital.

He is President of Achilles Foot and Ankle Surgery, PC with offices in Martins Ferry, St. Clairsville and Wheeling.

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