What You Need to Know About Foot & Ankle Reconstruction
Have you been living with a foot deformity or problem that seems to be slowly getting worse? Think of a bulging bunion, for example, or a slowly collapsing arch. If so, you may have started to consider whether a more aggressive treatment plan—perhaps even reconstructive surgery—might be in the cards.
Here are 7 things you need to know about reconstructive surgery:
It is generally considered a last resort.
Whenever possible, we prefer to manage a painful foot or ankle condition or deformity conservatively—say by using custom orthotics or physical therapy. If you have a bony deformity, this won’t “cure” it. But if it helps you get rid of pain and restriction, we’re all for it.
However, some problems just won’t respond to anything less than surgery.
Conservative treatments can only go so far. If they’re no longer providing the pain relief you need—and your foot problem is getting in the way of accomplishing your day-to-day hobbies and tasks—then surgery is the next logical step.
The main goal of reconstructive surgery is to restore proper biomechanical function and alignment to the feet.
Reconstructive surgery is chosen for conditions where bones, soft tissues, and other structures have become misaligned and need to be repositioned—in other words, “reconstructing” an anatomically healthy, functional foot. This in turn removes the source of pain and restriction. The cosmetic result is important, too, but not as important as regaining full function and activity.
There are many different surgical techniques.
Every foot is different. The location and severity of your condition, whether you’ve had a previous surgery, your lifestyle, any health concerns, etc., will all affect the choice of surgical procedures and the complexity of the surgery. Procedures can include cutting and realigning bones (osteotomy), fusing joints, or transferring or reinforcing tendons. Sometimes hardware (pins, screws, etc.) are necessary to hold the reconstructed foot in place during the healing process; however, this is not always the case.
The prognosis for reconstructive surgery is quite good on average.
Don’t let the last paragraph frighten you! Yes, each procedure comes with its own set of complexities and risks. However, in the clear majority of cases, reconstructive surgery is highly successful, leaving patients very satisfied with the long-term results. After months or even years of suffering, surgery offers the promise of relief at last.
The recovery window for reconstructive surgery varies based on the procedure, but it’s not that unusual to be looking at 6-8 weeks—maybe less, maybe more—before you’re back on your feet, in normal shoes, performing normal activities. The more you can prepare for this ahead of time, the better. That could mean, for example:
- Stocking up on groceries and supplies, or preparing heat-and-serve meals
- Arranging time for loved ones to help you with chores and household tasks
- Moving your “bedroom” to the main floor to minimize the need to go up and down stairs
Being proactive can help you take it easy, relax, and allow your foot the opportunity it needs to heal.
Listen to your surgeon.
Recovery and rehabilitation is a delicate process. You will get a detailed plan with critical information about your recovery—how to bathe, how to change a dressing, when you’re able to perform certain rehabilitation exercises, and the like. Please follow it to the letter—even if you “feel” like you are capable of doing more. The instructions are designed to help you heal and recover as quickly and safely as possible, while minimizing the chances of a setback.
Is it time for a reconstructive surgery to address your chronic foot issue? Perhaps, but you won’t know until you make the call. To book an appointment with the Southern California Foot & Ankle Specialists, please dial (949) 364-9255 today.