Simple Facts about Complex Foot Surgery

A well-oiled machine. Perhaps you’ve heard of this reference. It means all of the parts are working together smoothly to facilitate the outcome of the whole. Almost anything that is mechanical or moves has a complex system of individual parts to make the whole thing work— a watch, a car, a washing machine, your feet. That’s right, your feet and ankles are no exception. They enable you to make so many movements—everything from standing, running, jumping, and more—and for this to occur, they have a lot of parts working together. When something happens to one of those parts, just as in any machine that breaks down, it throws the whole thing off. Complex foot surgery and complex ankle surgery refer to the repair of various parts of your lower limbs in order to restore function.

An In-Depth Look

Our ankles and feet are complex structures made up of 28 bones and 33 joints, not to mention all the nerves, tendons, and ligaments! Obviously, a lot of things can go wrong in such a complicated area. To get an in-depth analysis of the pain and underlying conditions that are causing it, we must break it down into three different areas:

  • Forefoot—The front part of your foot consists of phalanges (toe bones) that are connected to metatarsals (long bones) by joints. This part of your foot supports half of your body’s weight!

  • Midfoot—The middle part of your foot is made up of five tarsal bones that form your arch, as well as muscles and ligaments that support it and act as shock absorbers.

  • Hindfoot—The back of your foot includes your heel bone, or calcaneus, and your ankle bone, or talus. Joined together by the subtalar joint, this is what allows you to move side-to-side. The muscles in your lower legs are attached to tendons in your feet, which allow us to move. The biggest of these tendons is the Achilles that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone.

The whole is only as good as its parts. If your extreme pain is affecting your lifestyle and all other treatment options have failed, complex foot surgery or complex ankle surgery may become a necessity.

Common Complications

Some of the conditions that may require foot or ankle surgery include deformities, injuries, structural issues, and damage from diseases like diabetes and arthritis. Here are the most common:

Deformities: Bunions occur when your big toe becomes misaligned, causing friction and pressure in the joint that results in pain and inflammation. Hammertoes occur when toes are squished and become permanently bent, causing pain and difficulty wearing shoes.

Tendon Trouble: Achilles tendon disorders can be debilitating. Swelling and tears can result in heel pain and immobility. When the tendon that connects the tibialis posterior muscle to bones in the foot becomes inflamed, it can cause your arch to collapse. The plantar fascia tendon that runs from your toes to your heel can also be stressed to the point of inflammation, resulting in heel and arch pain.

Diseases: Diabetes can cause many complications of the feet, including charcot foot (a collapse of bone structure), and neuropathy (loss of feeling). Arthritis can do all sorts of damage to the joints in your toes (metatarsals) and your ankles. Sometimes the ensuing deterioration, swelling, and soreness can only be addressed by fusing the bones together or replacing the entire ankle.

Nerve Issues: Morton’s neuroma is a condition where a nerve is damaged between the toes, causing pain, numbness, and tingling.

Advantages of Surgery

Complex foot surgery and complex ankle surgery can provide long-lasting pain relief, improved function, mobility, a better appearance, and a greater choice of comfortable footwear. Recovery time depends on the procedure, and although it will typically take quite a while, your pain-free parts will thank you for it. Physical therapy will quicken the healing process too.

At Podiatry Associates, P.C., we understand the complexities of your feet and ankles and have the expertise to help relieve your pain. Call Dr. Oberholtzer-Classen and the team at (303) 805-5156 or visit us in Castle Pines, Cherry Creek, or Parker, CO, today.

Dr. Cynthia Oberholtzer-Classen, DPM
Founder and Owner of Podiatry Associates, PC