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Surgical procedures for foot injuries or conditions are generally reserved for patients who have not received adequate relief from more conservative treatments. Foot surgery might be necessary if your foot pain or deformity prevents you from doing normal activities or enjoying life. A skilled orthopedic specialist can advise you and help you decide if surgery is the right step.

Types of Foot Surgery

Orthopedic foot specialists use several surgeries to manage or treat a variety of injuries, conditions, and degenerative diseases of the foot:

  • Bunion Surgery. If a bunion gets worse, causes enough pain to limit your mobility, or does not respond to orthotics and shoe inserts, surgery can help. Bunion surgery specifics vary by patient but generally involves realigning the deformity in the toe joint.
  • Hammertoe Surgery. A bunion that goes unchecked for too long, and other issues, can cause a hammertoe, a curving of the smaller toes. Surgery realigns the affected toes using fusion, temporary wire, or removal of part of the bone.
  • Flat Foot Surgery. This is a foot reconstruction surgery that repairs ligaments and tendons in the foot. This repair restores support to the arch to bring back normal mobility.
  • Joint Replacement. As with other joints in the body, arthritis can lead to significant deterioration and pain in toe joints. Replacement of the joint is one surgical option for treatment.
  • Fusion. Fusion procedures can be used to treat arthritis. It involves fusing bones together so they can no longer move and cause pain.
  • Neuroma Surgery. Neuromas are enlarged nerves that cause numbness, tingling, and pain. They often occur in the ball of the foot and cause symptoms in the toes. Most people do not need surgery for this condition, but it becomes necessary in about 20% of patients.
  • Plantar Fasciitis Surgery. Most patients get relief with non-surgical treatment for this condition, inflammation and damage in the ligament on the bottom of the foot. In some cases, surgery is needed to relieve pain. Surgery involves releasing tension in the ligament or lengthening a calf muscle.
  • Fracture Surgery. An injury that fractures a foot bone does not always require surgery. For severe injuries, a surgeon may need to rearrange the bones or use pins and other devices to reconstruct proper foot structure.

How to Prepare for Foot Surgery

Your surgeon will explain the procedure before you go through it and describe what you need to do in advance. For instance, you might need to stop taking certain medications.

Preparing your home ahead of surgery is also important because your mobility will be limited. Set up a sleeping area where you can access it easily and avoid stairs. Move furniture and other items to avoid trip hazards.

Create a setup where you can sit and elevate and ice your foot comfortably for long periods. If your doctor will not be providing a mobility device or boot, arrange for something to be ready for you. Stock up on food, wound care items, medications, and other essentials. If possible, have someone living with you who can help manage chores and get you around as needed.

Foot Surgery Recovery FAQs

Recovery is different for everyone based on individual factors and surgery type. Your surgeon can explain what to expect, what to do, what not to do, and your likely timeline for recovery. Most patients will receive general guidelines and expectations.

How Long Does Recovery Take?

This is highly variable depending on the surgery and its invasiveness. Many patients need a few months or even up to six months to recover fully, meaning no pain and full mobility. Your surgeon will let you know when you can put weight on your foot and walk without devices or assistance.

How Long Should I Elevate My Foot After Surgery?

Foot elevation after a procedure is important to reduce swelling and make yourself more comfortable. Plan on keeping your foot elevated much of the time for the first two weeks or so of recovery.

Why Put Ice Behind the Knee After Foot Surgery?

Ice is another useful recovery tool for reducing swelling and pain after surgery. You can ice the foot directly, but you may also be directed to ice behind your knee on the operative leg. Cold therapy behind the knee cools the blood flowing down to your injured foot, which helps manage pain and swelling.

How Long Do Stitches Stay in After Foot Surgery?

Your surgeon will tell you when stitches or staples should come out, and you can schedule your appointment based on that timeline. In general, stitches stay in for about two weeks.

Foot surgery is a big deal but often necessary to relieve pain and restore normal functioning. If you are ready to discuss the possibility, contact us online to request an appointment with one of our orthopedic foot specialists.

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