Most Common Foot and Ankle Surgeries

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.

Some common foot and ankle surgeries include:

Fracture Surgery
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.

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.

Bunion Surgery
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.

Fusion Surgery
Typically fusions are used to treat arthritic conditions of the foot and ankle. These procedures involve the removal of cartilage and any diseased bone from a joint to produce a fusion of at least two bones to create one bone. This removal of cartilage exposes the underlying bone on both sides of the joint. These joints surfaces are then compressed together with some form of fixation to create the fusion. Fusions can be done with screws, plates or pins or a combination of these.

Hammertoe Surgery
Hammer toe can be corrected by surgery if conservative measures fail. Conservative treatments usually start with finding shoes with soft, roomy toe boxes that will accommodate the hammer toe. Additional treatments may include the use of commercially available straps, cushions or nonmedicated corn pads to relieve symptoms.

Heel SurgeryHeel surgery is done to relieve pain in the heel when other treatments haven’t worked. There are several types of heel surgery, but the most common involves the plantar fascia, which is a band of tissue that connects the toes to the heel bone. During the surgery, the doctor removes or releases part of this tissue that’s causing pain. Plantar fascia release is another name for this surgery.

Metatarsal Surgery
The metatarsals are the bones that connect the toes to the foot. Your doctor may recommend metatarsal surgery to fix a deformed or dislocated toe. It can also help relieve pain in the ball of the foot. In most cases, the surgery involves cutting and shortening one of the bones.

Neuroma Surgery
Neuroma surgery involves the removal of a benign enlargement of a nerve, usually between the metatarsal heads in the ball of the foot.  The nerves in this area (between the toes) can become painful and inflamed for a number of reasons, including improper footwear, repetitive activity and excessive pressure. In addition, heredity and genetics may also play a role.

This surgery generally involves making an incision on the top of the foot so the nerve can carefully be removed. This also requires ensuring removal of the nerve far enough back so that the nerve doesn’t continue to become impinged at the ball of the foot.

Santa Rosa Orthopaedics
As an orthopedic Surgeon and Director of The Foot & Ankle Program at SRO, Dr. Mark Schakel treats problems of the foot and ankle. Dr. Schakel is the director of Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital’s Foot and Ankle Trauma Service. He has extensive experience in treating problems of the foot and ankle, including reconstructive, traumatic, sports-related, and congenital problems. Learn more …