Foot and Ankle Surgery: What is it, Treatment Areas
Feet and ankles are among the limbs that carry the entire load of the body during the day and are most exposed to impacts.
Feet and ankles are among the limbs that carry the entire load of the body during the day and are most exposed to impacts. Foot and ankle surgery is the branch of surgery that deals with the treatment of problems occurring in the foot and ankle. Surgical methods are frequently used in the treatment of injuries and deformities in the foot and ankle. So what is foot and ankle surgery? What diseases does it treat? What are the diagnosis and treatment methods used in foot and ankle surgery? Answers to questions like these and other curious questions about foot and ankle surgery are detailed in the rest of the article.
What is Foot and Ankle Surgery?
Foot and ankle surgery is a medical specialty that uses surgical methods to treat various health problems in the foot and ankle. Foot and ankle are among the limbs that bear the most weight in the human body. For this reason, any problem occurring in the foot area may cause complaints such as limitation of movement and pain. Foot and ankle surgery plays an important role in preserving people’s mobility. Surgical procedures include the treatment of many problems such as correction of deformities in the foot and ankle, repair of fractures, tendons and muscles, and placement of foot and ankle prostheses. In foot and ankle surgery, which is usually performed under local or general anesthesia, closed or open surgery techniques can be used depending on the patient’s condition.
Foot and ankle surgery is a treatment method frequently used to solve patients’ foot and ankle problems. The use of surgical methods in the treatment of foot and ankle problems helps patients reduce their pain, increase their mobility and return to their daily activities.
What Diseases Does Foot and Ankle Surgery Treat?
In foot and ankle problems, it is often possible to treat the problem using non-surgical treatment methods. However, in some cases, specialist doctors may decide that treatment should be performed using surgical methods. It is decided whether the patient will undergo surgery or not by considering factors such as severe pain, the patient’s general health condition, and the decrease in the patient’s mobility. The main health problems that foot and ankle surgery deals with are as follows:
- Foot deformities: Congenital or acquired foot deformities can in some cases cause movement restrictions in people. Foot and ankle surgery deals with the diagnosis and treatment of foot deformities, especially foot deformities such as flat feet and toe curvature.
- Foot and ankle trauma: Injuries to the foot and foot area may occur due to reasons such as a wrong movement during sports, a traffic accident or a fall. Surgical methods may need to be used to treat problems such as sprains and injuries in the foot and ankle.
- Heel spur surgery: The health problem, also called heel spur, is the bone-like protrusion that appears at the bottom of the heel bone. Heel spurs, which may occur due to reasons such as standing for a long time or straining the foot and ankle, can cause severe pain in the majority of patients. While non-surgical methods can be used in the treatment of heel spurs, surgical methods are also frequently used.
- Arthritis treatment: Arthritis can be defined as inflammation occurring in any joint in the body. Arthritis is also common in the small joints of the foot and ankle. Depending on the level of the disease, patients may experience problems such as pain and difficulty in movement. In addition to treatment methods such as physical therapy and medication, surgical treatment methods are also used in the treatment of arthritis.
- Tumors in the foot and ankle: Foot and ankle tumors are rare, but can lead to serious consequences if not treated early. Ankle surgery is an effective method in the diagnosis and treatment of tumors in the foot and ankle area.
In addition to those listed above, surgical procedures such as bone grafting (graft), tendon repair and amputation are also successfully performed by doctors specialized in foot and ankle surgery.
What are the Diagnostic Methods Used in Foot and Ankle Surgery?
Foot and ankle surgery is a branch of surgery used in the treatment of different health problems in the foot and ankle that negatively affect daily activities, sports, walking and running. Diagnostic methods used in surgery may vary depending on the type and severity of the disease and the characteristics of the patient. Among the diagnostic methods used in foot and ankle surgery, various imaging methods come first after physical examination. These methods are important to understand the type of disease, make a correct diagnosis and determine the appropriate treatment plan.
Imaging methods using X-rays are the most commonly used radiographic imaging methods. In addition, detailed imaging of the bone marrow and soft tissues is possible thanks to imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). It can also be used to detect damage or injury to tendons, ligaments, muscles and other soft tissues. Computerized tomography (CT) scanning works similarly to X-rays, but provides more detailed images and is used especially for detailed examination of bone structures. Ultrasound is generally used to detect tendon injuries and ligament damage. With ultrasonography, images obtained using high-frequency sound waves produced by a device during imaging are processed by a computer. Thanks to this detailed imaging method, the specialist doctor can easily detect foot and ankle problems. Additionally, in people who do sports, with the help of ultrasound, it can be determined how strong or weak the tendon is and an appropriate treatment plan can be prepared.
What are the Treatment Methods Applied in Foot and Ankle Surgery?
There are a wide variety of treatment methods applied in foot and ankle surgery. Specialist surgeons in the field of foot and ankle, who are closely interested in health problems such as ankle sprains, foot fractures, Achilles tendon injuries, heel spurs, dislocations or fractures of foot bones, and diabetic feet, first listen to the patient’s complaints carefully and, if necessary, provide appropriate treatment when determining the treatment plan. It uses various imaging techniques to prepare the plan. Since the foot is an important limb that carries the weight of the body, any problem occurring in this limb, if left untreated, may progress due to decreased mobility and cause more serious health problems.
Treatment methods frequently applied in foot and ankle surgery are as follows:
- Posterior tibial tendon surgery: Posterior tibial tendon disease is one of the most common health problems in the foot area. If there is a problem with the posterior tibial tendon, whose main function is to create the arch of the sole of the foot, the arch of the foot may disappear and various problems, especially flat feet, may occur. One of the commonly applied treatment methods in foot and ankle surgery is Posterior tibial tendon surgery. During this surgery, which can now be performed using minimally invasive methods (with the help of a small incision) under the influence of local anesthesia, the specialist surgeon makes an incision on the sheath surrounding the tendon and repairs the damaged tendon part.
- Ankle arthrodesis (fusion): One of the common problems in the foot and ankle joints is arthritis. During ankle fusion, the specialist surgeon separates the joint from the bone and joins the bones together appropriately.
- Achilles tendon repair: Achilles tendon rupture or wear is a health problem that can be seen in many people, especially athletes. In case of rupture of the Achilles tendon, the tendon usually needs to be repaired surgically. The surgery can be performed with minimally invasive methods. During the procedure, the specialist surgeon reaches the tendon through a small incision and repairs the tear in the tendon.
In addition, foot wounds may occur and/or amputation may be required due to a chronic disease such as diabetes. Help is taken from foot and ankle surgeons in the treatment of problems such as these.
Early diagnosis and treatment of foot and ankle problems helps prevent the progression of the disease. If you are experiencing problems such as pain, swelling, and movement restriction in your foot and ankle, do not forget to consult the nearest health institution and have your check-ups.