What is Foot Reconstruction Surgery?
Foot reconstruction is a surgery performed to correct the structures of the foot and restore the natural functionality of the foot that has been lost due to injury or illness. Ideally, any foot surgery for reconstruction is done to improve the appearance and function of the foot so that patients can maintain their quality of life.
The foot is formed by several bones, ligaments, joints and muscles, which function collectively to control the various movements like walking and running. This complicated structure of the foot permits it to resist heavy forces every day. As the feet are a common area for wounds and injuries, they are susceptible to various mistreatments in the form of ill-fitting shoes, sports injuries, work-related trauma, or the strain of walking. Various outside forces tend to harm the feet and cause pain and discomfort.
What are the Indications for Foot Reconstruction Surgery?
A variety of reconstructive procedures are designed to treat many foot disorders and restore your foot back to its original health and function. Following are the indications:
- Common foot ailments like bunions or hammertoes
- Postural deformity such as severe flat feet
- Pain while walking on hard surfaces
- Difficulty in wearing shoes
- Problems with standing or other movements of the foot
- Fractures sustained because of accident/trauma
- Athletic injuries like Achilles tendon tears, foot/ankle fractures, ligament injuries and several others
- Plantar fasciitis, a common cause of heel pain
- Heel and bone spurs
- Joint or bone deformities due to arthritis
- Tumors and lesions
- Metabolic disease such as diabetes
Why is Foot Reconstruction Surgery Performed?
The primary objectives of foot reconstruction are reduction of pain and restoration of function and appearance. The surgery to be performed depends on several factors such as the age of the individual, type of foot disorder, and severity and duration of the symptoms.
Reconstructive foot surgery is performed to correct birth defects, diseases and other foot ailments and can greatly benefit patients’ medical and aesthetic needs. It is often recommended when conservative treatments fail to resolve the symptoms. It is a good option for permanently treating various foot disorders.
How is Foot Reconstruction Surgery Performed?
With the new advancements in surgical technology, the traditional method of treating foot disorders is replaced by a minimally invasive technique (arthroscopy) which can typically be performed on an out-patient basis.
Arthroscopy is usually performed under general anesthesia. Several tiny incisions are made by your surgeon to insert an arthroscope and miniature surgical instruments into the joint. The camera attached to the arthroscope displays the internal structures on a monitor and your surgeon uses these pictures to evaluate the joint and direct the small surgical instruments either to repair or remove the damaged bone or tendon depending upon the extent of injury.
At the end of the procedure, the surgical incisions are closed by sutures or protected with skin tapes and a soft dressing pad is applied. Depending upon the surgery, your surgeon will place a cast or a splint to prevent movement of the foot until it regains normal functioning capacity.
What are the Advantages of Arthroscopic Surgery?
Some of the advantages of arthroscopic surgery include:
- Smaller incisions
- Minimal trauma to the surrounding structures
- Shorter recovery time with less post-surgical complications
- Greater range of motion with less post-operative pain
- Decreased muscle atrophy
What is the Postoperative Care for Foot Reconstruction Surgery?
Following are the post-surgical guidelines for reconstruction:
- Make sure you get adequate rest. Avoid using the affected foot for a few weeks.
- Take medications to help alleviate pain and inflammation as prescribed by your doctor.
- Apply ice bags over a towel to the affected area for about 15-20 minutes to reduce post-operative pain and swelling.
- Compression dressings (bandage) are used to support the foot to reduce swelling. Take care not to wrap too tightly which could constrict the blood vessels.
- Elevate the foot at or above the level of your heart to help minimize swelling and discomfort.
- A wheelchair might be required for a few days in more severe cases.
- Start rehabilitation (physical therapy) as recommended by your surgeon to improve range of motion.
- Crutches or a walker may be used to maintain balance or stability while walking. You should begin appropriate exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles.
- Cover the splint while showering to keep it clean and dry.
- Return to sports after the foot has regained normal strength and function with your surgeon's approval.
The outcome of foot reconstruction surgery is greatly improved when you, your surgeon, and the physical therapist work together as a team.