Foot & ankle surgery encompasses a range of procedures performed to address various conditions and injuries affecting the foot. While many issues can be treated without surgery, in some cases, the doctor may recommend surgical intervention.
In this article, we will discuss the most commonly performed foot and ankle surgeries and where you can go in San Antonio for treatment.
Who Performs Foot and Ankle Surgery?
Podiatrists are foot and ankle surgeons who dedicate most of their lives to the diagnosis and treatment of podiatry conditions. Their focus and specialization are the feet and their structures. This gives them highly specialized knowledge and allows them to provide accurate and effective treatments.
What Are the Most Common Reasons for Foot and Ankle Surgery?
Podiatrists may recommend surgery for many reasons. The surgical procedure will vary depending on the specific foot or ankle condition being addressed. Some common foot and ankle surgeries include:
To correct a bunion, or a bony prominence that develops at the base of the big toe. It involves the realignment of the toes back into the proper position.
2. Hammertoe Corrective Surgery
A hammertoe causes a toe joint to point upward or develop a bent position. A hammertoe correction involves releasing or lengthening the tendon that has become contracted to restore proper alignment of the toe. In some cases, the doctor may remove a small part of the bone in the joint to allow the toe to straighten. They may also reshape the bones of the toe to allow it to fully extend.
3. Tendon Repair or Transfer
There are three major tendons in the foot – the Achilles, posterior tibial, and peroneal tendons, and they can weaken, causing chronic injuries, or rupture, which is a complete tearing of the soft tissue. An example of tendon repair is peroneal tendon surgery, which involves repairing the torn tendon with sutures or taking a graft of healthy tissue from another part of the body. All this is necessary for pain relief and to restore the strength and range of motion in the ankle, so the patient can return to normal activities.
4. Ankle Fusion or Joint Replacement
Arthritis and trauma cause pain and functional impairment. An ankle fusion or joint replacement may be used to address severe arthritis.
- An ankle fusion or arthrodesis involves surgically joining the bones of the ankle joint, eliminating the joint space. This procedure fuses the bones together, creating a solid connection. It permanently immobilizes the joint but eliminates the pain caused by the arthritic joint surfaces rubbing against each other. Ankle fusion is typically recommended for younger patients, those with higher physical demands, or when joint replacement is unsuitable due to factors like poor bone quality.
- An ankle joint replacement or arthroplasty involves replacing the damaged joint surfaces with an artificial implant. The implant mimics the function of a natural joint, allowing for movement and preserving joint mobility. Ankle replacement is often considered for older individuals with lower physical demands and adequate bone quality.
5. Fracture Repair
Foot and ankle fractures are another common reason for foot and ankle surgery. Displaced fractures (where the bone ends do not align properly), open fractures (where the bone pierces through the skin), and fractures in weight-bearing bones (such as the talus or calcaneus) may need surgery to set the bones and fix them with screws, plates, or other hardware for proper alignment and stabilization.
6. Ankle Ligament Reconstruction
Ankle ligament reconstruction is a surgical procedure performed to repair or reconstruct damaged ligaments in the ankle joint. It is commonly used to address severe ankle sprains, chronic ankle sprains, and laxity. The foot and ankle surgeon can tighten the ankle ligament with sutures or replace the already weakened ligament with a tendon from another part of the body.
7. Surgery for Charcot Foot
Charcot foot is a complication of diabetic foot and is common in individuals with nerve damage in the foot. Charcot foot affects bones and joints in the foot, causing them to break and dislocate, eventually making the foot look deformed. Surgery to treat Charcot foot is extensive and may involve a realignment, fusion, and stabilization of the bones and joints to restore the foot’s ability to bear weight.
8. Limb Salvage or Amputation
Limb salvage is a type of surgery used to preserve a compromised limb, where the doctor employs techniques such as removing diseased soft tissue and replacing damaged bone in a patient with a life-threatening infection or tissue death. This method is pursued if the limb can be saved without compromising the patient’s health and quality of life. Limb salvage patients are those who have diabetes-related complications such as infection or a tumor.
Amputation, on the other hand, involves the surgical removal of a limb when salvage is not feasible or poses a significant threat, such as the spread of gangrene or tissue death. The decision between limb salvage or amputation depends on many factors that the doctor will carefully weigh.
Many types of foot & ankle surgery can be performed using a minimally invasive technique. A highly skilled podiatric surgeon can use arthroscopy, which involves the use of a cutting-edge tool that allows the doctor to see the inside of the foot or ankle and make the necessary repairs. Only small incisions need to be made, which means less pain and bleeding, a lower risk of complications, and a faster recovery for patients.
Foot and Ankle Surgery in San Antonio, Boerne, Hondo, Floresville, Kenedy, and Live Oak, TX
The foot and ankle surgeons at The Podiatry Group of South Texas can perform a range of foot and ankle surgeries using minimally invasive techniques. From the most common foot conditions to complex and unique cases, our podiatrists have the knowledge, skill, experience, and compassion to help produce the best possible outcomes for our patients.