Foot and Ankle Surgery - Podiatry in Chelmsford and Newburyport, MA
When is Foot Surgery Necessary?
Many foot problems do not respond to “conservative” management. Your podiatric physician can determine when surgical intervention may be helpful. Often when pain or deformity persists, surgery may be appropriate to alleviate discomfort or to restore the function of your foot.
A common deformity of the foot, a bunion is an enlargement of the bone and tissue around the joint of the big toe. Heredity frequently plays a role in the occurrence of bunions, as it does in other foot conditions. When symptomatic, the area may become red, swollen, and inflamed, making shoe gear and walking uncomfortable and difficult. If conservative care fails to reduce these symptoms, surgical intervention may be warranted. Your podiatric physician will determine the type of surgical procedure best suited for your deformity, based on a variety of information which may include X-rays and gait examination.
A hammertoe deformity is a contracture of the toe(s), frequently caused by an imbalance in the tendon or joints of the toes. Due to the “buckling” effect of the toe(s), hammertoes may become painful secondary to footwear irritation and pressure. Corn and callus formation may occur as a hammertoe becomes more rigid over time, making it difficult to wear shoes. Your podiatric physician may suggest correction of this deformity through a surgical procedure to realign the toe(s).
An irritation of a nerve may produce a neuroma, which is a benign enlargement of a nerve segment, commonly found between the third and fourth toes. Several factors may contribute to the formation of a neuroma.
Trauma, arthritis, high-heeled shoes, or an abnormal bone structure are just some of the conditions that may cause a neuroma. Symptoms such as burning or tingling in the ball of the foot or in the adjacent toes and even numbness are commonly seen with this condition. Other symptoms include swelling between the toes and pain in the ball of the foot when weight is placed on it.
Those suffering from the condition often find relief by stopping their walk, taking off their shoe, and rubbing the affected area. At times, the patient will describe the pain as similar to having a stone in his or her shoe.
Your podiatric physician will likely X-ray the affected area to determine the size and severity of the neuroma and suggest a treatment plan. If conservative treatment does not relieve the symptoms, then your podiatric physician will decide, on the basis of your symptoms, whether surgical treatment is appropriate.
Bunionette (Tailor’s Bunion)
A protuberance of bone at the outside of the foot behind the fifth (small) toe, the bunionette or “small bunion” is caused by a variety of conditions including heredity, faulty biomechanics (the way one walks) or trauma, to name a few. Pain is often associated with this deformity, making shoes very uncomfortable and at times even walking becomes difficult. If severe and conservative treatments fail to improve the symptoms of this condition, surgical repair may be suggested. Your podiatric physician will develop a surgical plan specific to the condition present.
A bone spur is an overgrowth of bone as a result of pressure, trauma, or reactive stress of a ligament or tendon. This growth can cause pain and even restrict motion of a joint, depending on its location and size. Spurs may also be located under the toenail plate, causing nail deformity and pain. Surgical treatment and procedure is based on the size, location, and symptoms of the bone spur. Your podiatric physician will determine the surgical method best suited for your condition.
Preoperative Testing and Care
As with anyone facing any surgical procedure, those undergoing foot and ankle surgery require specific tests or examinations before surgery to improve a successful surgical outcome. Prior to surgery, the podiatric physician will review your medical history and medical conditions. Specific diseases, illnesses, allergies, and current medications need to be evaluated. Other tests that help evaluate your health status may be ordered by the podiatric physician, such as blood studies, urinalysis, EKG, X-rays, a blood flow study (to better evaluate the circulatory status of the foot/legs), and a biomechanical examination. A consultation with another medical specialist may be advised by a podiatric physician, depending on your test results or a specific medical condition.
The type of foot surgery performed determines the length and kind of after- care required to assure that your recovery from surgery is rapid and uneventful. The basics of all postoperative care involves to some degree each of the following: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Bandages, splints, surgical shoes, casts, crutches, or canes may be necessary to improve and ensure a safe recovery after foot surgery. A satisfactory recovery can be hastened by carefully following instructions from your podiatric physician.
Many Conditions Affect the Rearfoot
Many conditions can affect the back portion of the foot and ankle. Fortunately, many of these problems can be resolved through conservative treatments. However when pain persists or deformity occurs, surgical intervention can often help alleviate pain, reduce deformity, and/or restore the function of your foot or ankle.
Two common conditions that can cause pain to the bottom of the heel are plantar fasciitis and heel spur(s). Although there are many causes of heel pain in both children and adults, most can be effectively treated without surgery. When chronic heel pain fails to respond to conservative treatment, surgical care may be warranted.
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of a fibrous band of tissue in the bottom of the foot that extends from the heel bone to the toes. This tissue can become inflamed for many reasons, most commonly from irritation by placing too much stress (such as excess running and jumping) on the bottom of the foot.
Heel Spur(s) or heel spur syndrome are most often the result of stress on the muscles and fascia of the foot. This stress may form a spur on the bottom of the heel. While many spurs are painless others may produce chronic pain.
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 on examination and usually consists of plantar fascia release, with or without heel spur excision. There have been various modifications and surgical enhancements regarding surgery of the heel. Your podiatric physician will determine which method is best suited for you.
There are many other causes of heel pain, which has become one of the most common foot problems reported by patients of podiatric physicians. Many of them have a basis in heredity, as do a lot of other foot conditions. Among the causes are stress fractures and stress-fracture syndrome, entrapped nerves, bruises, bursitis, arthritis (including gout), deterioration of the fat pad on the heel, improper shoes, and obesity, just to name some. Most of these conditions will be treated nonsurgically, though surgery may be recommended in some instances.
Haglund's Deformity (pump bump)
This deformity is characterized by a bony enlargement on the back of the heel. Although not always painful, it may become so if bursitis develops near the Achilles tendon secondary to footwear irritation. If attempts at shoe modification and other medical treatments fail to improve this condition, surgical correction may be beneficial. Based on X-ray evaluation and other tests or examinations your podiatric surgeon will select an operative treatment to alleviate the condition.
Insertional Achilles Clarification/Spur
This deformity differs from Haglund's deformity, in that spur formation or calcification at the insertion of the Achilles tendon is the cause of pain. Often associated with Achilles tendinitis, this deformity can often be difficult to treat medically and therefore surgical treatment may be necessary in chronic cases. There are many causes of this condition, including arthritis, but the most common appears to be overuse syndrome, where trauma occurs where the Achilles tendon attaches to the heel bone. Surgical treatment includes removal of the bone spur and/or calcification, along with repair of the Achilles tendon.
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 and/or ankle. Reconstructive surgery in many of these cases 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 the osteotomy of bone (cutting of bones in a precise fashion). Bone screws, pins, wires, staples, and other fixation devices (both internal and external), and casts may be utilized to stabilize and repair bone in reconstructive procedures.
Preoperative Testing And Care
As with anyone facing any surgical procedure, those undergoing foot and ankle surgery require specific tests or examinations before surgery to obtain a successful surgical outcome. Prior to surgery, the podiatric surgeon will review your medical history and medical conditions. Specific diseases, illnesses, allergies, and current medications need to be evaluated. Other tests that help evaluate your health status that may be ordered by the podiatric physician include blood studies, urinalysis, EKG, X-rays, blood flow studies (to better evaluate the circulatory status of the foot/legs), and biomechanical examination.
A consultation with another medical specialist is sometimes advised by a podiatric physician, depending on your test results or a specific medical condition.
Surgery of the rearfoot requires close care following surgery. To assure a rapid and uneventful recovery, it is important to follow your podiatric surgeon's advice and postoperative instructions carefully. Rest, ice, compression and elevation of your foot/ankle postoperatively is often advised. The usage of bandages, splints, casts, surgical shoes, crutches, or canes may be necessary after surgery. Your podiatric surgeon will also determine if and when you can bear weight on an operated foot.
*Article and pictures provided by the American Podiatric Medical Association.
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