Foot and ankle problems are not uncommon, and most of us will experience one at some point in life. Foot and ankle problems can cause pain, reduced function, and a change in appearance. The foot and ankle are two of the most complex areas of the body, and although some problems will get better without medical intervention, others may require surgery to ensure a successful recovery.
Here are some examples of common foot and ankle surgeries:
Achilles Tendon Repair Surgery
The Achilles tendon is a large, strong fibrous cord that runs down the back of the lower part of the leg and connects the calf muscles to the heel bone (calcaneus). It is the most powerful tendon in the body and is used virtually every time we move our feet. The Achilles tendon can be vulnerable to injury, particularly during sports or as a result of weakening over time due to tendonitis. An Achilles tendon rupture can cause severe, sudden pain and difficulty walking, jumping, and climbing stairs. Sometimes, it may be treated without surgery, but for individuals that lead an active lifestyle and want to return to strenuous recreational activities, surgery to reattach the torn Achilles tendon may be recommended. Additionally, if the Achilles tendon is severely torn, it may require surgery for adequate treatment.
An Achilles tendon repair procedure is generally very effective with a low risk of repeated tendon rupture and a better chance of regaining full strength in the leg following surgery. Recovery from the procedure can take time and will require physical therapy. However, most people can return to walking and swimming 6 weeks after the procedure and gradually return to sports several months after that.
Toe Deformity Correction Surgery
Toe deformities frequently develop over time and are usually the result of structural changes in the muscles and tendons that bend the toes. They can also be caused by certain medical conditions (such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis), an inherited condition, trauma, or by wearing poor-fitting shoes. Hammertoe is the most common toe deformity which usually affects the second toe of the foot, causing the middle joint of the toe to bend. Other toe deformities can include mallet toe and claw toe.
Toe deformities can be painful, and these conditions usually get worse over time. Surgery may be required when nonsurgical treatments fail to relieve symptoms or for advanced cases of toe deformities. Surgery may include arthroplasty to remove small pieces of bone from the joint, an arthrodesis to fuse and straighten the toe joint, or surgery to remove skin or correct muscles and tendons to balance the joint.
There are 28 bones in the foot and ankle. All of them are susceptible to fractures for various reasons, such as an accident during sports play, a vehicle collision, a fall from a significant height, or from direct trauma, such as dropping something heavy on the foot or toes. Treatment depends on the type and severity of the fracture and the bones that are involved, but the aim is to align the fractured bones to allow them to heal correctly. If a bone has been badly fractured, surgical hardware, such as pins, may be used to hold the bones in place while they heal.
Bunions are a common foot deformity. They are more common in women and can result from wearing poorly fitted shoes or high heels, a foot injury, or conditions such as arthritis. They can also run in families. Bunions cause the bones in the big toe and foot to move out of position, resulting in a large, painful bump on the side of the foot at the big toe. Surgery may be required to restore normal alignment and allow pain-free movement and function. There are a number of surgical techniques for treating bunions, such as a metatarsal osteotomy. The aim of surgery is to realign the bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, and nerves, place the toes in their correct positions, and remove the bony bump.
Foot and Ankle Care in Maryland
If you are experiencing pain or reduced function in your foot or ankle, seek expert advice from Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland. We have a team of board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeons, podiatrists, and physiatrists who can diagnose, treat, and prevent a broad range of orthopedic conditions including foot and ankle disorders. We use state-of-the-art surgical techniques in order to help you resume your favorite activities as quickly as possible.
For comprehensive orthopaedic care in four locations, visit Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland by calling (410) 644-1880 today, or toll-free at (855) 4MD-BONE. You can also request an appointment online.