When Do I Need Foot Surgery?
If you don’t want to think of foot surgery until you absolutely have to, we understand that. You might be surprised to learn that, as podiatrists, we often feel the same way!
Surgery is an invaluable tool for helping many people find relief when they need it. In most cases, however, it is far from the only option available. There are many times when less invasive forms of treatment can provide satisfactory results, and we will often pursue those first.
Knowing when you are more or less likely to require foot surgery can be helpful information when discussing your foot or ankle troubles with us, but let’s make a couple things clear right off the bat:
- Never let a fear of potential surgery keep you from seeking help.
- Never let the idea that you probably don’t need surgery be an excuse to avoid seeking help either!
We always want to find the most effective and suitable ways to address our patients’ foot or ankle problems, and the sooner you see us, the faster you can get back to a life of less or no discomfort.
With that said, here are common reasons why you might need foot surgery.
Conservative Methods Just Aren’t Cutting It
As we previously noted, there are many conservative treatment options that can yield significant results for a variety of conditions. At our practice, our recommendations might range from simple rest and stretching exercises, to more advanced treatments such as laser therapy.
In the majority of cases, conservative forms of treatment will be enough to significantly improve most problems within several months. Sometimes, however, a problem will not respond well enough to continue down that path. If we run out of reasonable conservative options, surgery might then become a consideration.
Having a foot or toe deformity, like a bunion or hammertoes, does not always mean that surgery is the first or only option for care.
Even when a deformity is somewhat pronounced, there can still be conservative methods that provide effective relief of symptoms. These can include padding, custom orthotics, stretches, and other forms of treatment.
We must also be realistic, however. If a bunion or other deformity is severe enough, surgery may be the only real action that can provide significant relief. Many different surgical procedures exist for treating deformities, and may include shaving off bone, realigning bones, or repairing tendons and ligaments.
The goals of such procedures are always to relieve symptoms and maintain or restore mobility. Very rarely will such a surgery ever be considered purely for cosmetic reasons.
Some Foot and Ankle Fractures
Not every broken bone requires surgery, certainly. Most milder fractures can be set manually and heal on their own with the aid of an immobilizing cast.
However, the foot and ankle region is no stranger to more severe fractures, where the parts of a broken bone can become displaced or even shattered into multiple pieces. In these cases, it’s more likely that surgery will be required to properly realign, set, and secure the broken bone end
Severely Torn or Ruptured Tendons
Tendons connect muscles to bone, and you can think of them a lot like a rubber band on an old wind-up toy. If that band breaks, the toy won’t move like it should. The same can be said when a tendon tears or disconnects.
If a tendon is only strained or mildly torn, it can often heal well using more conservative forms of treatment. When a tear is more severe or the tendon has fully ruptured, however, surgery will likely be necessary to properly repair the damage.
Recurring Ingrown Toenails
When an ingrown toenail keeps coming back no matter what kinds of changes you make to your footwear or toe trimming habits, there is a chance that you were simply born with a propensity for your toenails to grow curved and ingrown. If that is the case, then the best route of treatment may be a permanent removal.
Also known as a matrixectomy, this is a simple, minor in-office procedure performed under local anesthetic so you will not feel pain. Once part or all of the nail is removed, as required, we can treat the underlying nail bed to keep it from growing new nail, thereby eliminating the ingrown toenail problem.
In some cases where an ingrown toenail is not recurring but might still need removal, we may perform the procedure without treating the nailbed, allowing the nail to grow back.
The Right Road to Relief
There are certainly other conditions and circumstances that might require surgery, and the type of procedure we recommend for one patient might not be the same as another with the same condition. We must always consider factors such as age, medical history, and individual needs before making our best recommendation for a specific patient.
Whether conservative or surgical treatments are ultimately the best option for you, we will happily discuss with you the reasoning behind our recommendations, as well as answer any questions you might have. We want you to be able to move forward with confidence!
Schedule an appointment with Premier Podiatry Group by calling us at (814) 472-2660 or by filling out our online contact form. We also offer telemedicine appointments for anyone who prefers to hold a consultation with us from the comfort of their home.