Considering Foot Surgery? Here’s What You Need to Know
Are your feet in serious pain? Do you have a progressive deformity—say a bunion, hammertoe, or flat foot—that’s getting worse and worse? If so, the idea of surgery has probably crossed your mind at least once or twice. But how do you know if it’s really necessary? How do you know if it’s really time?
Although we can’t answer that question for sure without examining your feet in person, we hope the following information is useful to you as you weigh your options.
The First Question: What Are My Symptoms?
Probably the most important consideration before determining whether you need surgery is your symptoms—or more specifically, how those symptoms are affecting your life.
If you’re only dealing with minor aches and pains, surgery probably isn’t the right choice for you. In most cases, mild symptoms can be managed just fine without any aggressive intervention. Instead, conservative methods like new shoes, stretching, or custom orthotics are often recommended. Even though deformities like bunions cannot be “fixed” without surgery, they may not need to be fixed (at least not right away) if conservative treatments enable you to live a full, pain-free life.
However, if you find that pain continues to be intense—especially in such a way that it limits your activities and reduces your daily quantity of life—then surgery may be an appropriate next step.
The Second Question: What Are My Alternatives?
So, let’s say the pain is strong enough to get in the way of daily living, and your attempts at stopping it—resting for a few days, ice, medication, stretching, new shoes or insoles, etc.—just aren’t cutting it. You’ve met the necessary conditions for surgery, but hold the phone. What are your alternatives?
At the Kansas Foot Center, we offer several advanced, “second level” treatment options that may be viable alternatives to a surgical procedure. These are typically recommended when pain is serious or when more traditional conservative options fail, and in many cases, they can resolve the painful problem and spare our patients from a more invasive procedure.
The most impressive alternatives can be considered part of an emerging field called “regenerative medicine,” and they work in part by stimulating your body’s own cellular repair mechanisms, metabolism, and immune response. They have proven very effective for most forms of inflammatory musculoskeletal pain, and include:
If we think you’d be a good candidate for either of these treatments, we’d be happy to discuss them with you in more detail.
Making the Decision
If pain is still significant and all alternatives have either been exhausted or rejected, we will likely recommend a surgical procedure. Once again, there may be several viable surgical options, depending on your age, medical history, and preferred lifestyle.
We want to make sure you are as informed as possible about your options and comfortable with both the procedure selected and your surgical team. It’s appropriate now to ask as many questions as you would like, or even seek out a second opinion to be sure that it’s what you want. There are no stupid questions.
Most foot surgeries are performed outpatient at either our office or a nearby surgical center.
Preparing Mind, Body, and Home
No matter how good surgeon, the procedure itself is only the first half of the equation. In the days and weeks to follow, you will be responsible for managing most of your aftercare.
Of course, you will be checking in regularly, and will provide you with detailed instructions to help you protect your surgically repaired foot and expedite your healing. Because you’ll be on the mend and unable to perform certain functions for at least a little while, the more you can prepare for your post-surgery recovery period, the better.
Here are some important things to consider:
- Do I have someone to help me? Of course, you’ll need someone to drive you home after the surgery, and we strongly recommend you have at least one other adult at home with you the first night. But will you have anyone close at hand to help you with tasks throughout the day, especially within the first week or so after surgery?
- Is my home safe and accessible? Remember that after surgery, you may not be as mobile or steady on your feet as you would like. Is your home cluttered with debris, furniture, or cords that could pose a tripping hazard? Are the walkways clear? Will you need to get up and down stairs frequently? Are you keeping clothes, food, or other essential supplies in hard-to-reach areas? Before your surgery, clean up the clutter, keep your most-used items close, and make sure you have a comfy resting spot and sleeping area on the main floor.
- Do I have everything I need? Imagine that it’s 2 a.m., your foot hurts and you’re on crutches—and you’re out of toilet paper. Don’t let that be you! Make sure you have enough essential supplies stocked up beforehand to get you through the hardest part of your recovery. Prepping some meals ahead of time is also a good idea.
- Am I going to be bored out of my mind? Activity restrictions after surgery are hard for everyone, but especially for active people used to going for a run, hitting the gym, or playing a sport. It’s smart (and quite therapeutic) to plan some quieter activities before your surgery and have them ready to go. Fill up your Netflix queue. Attack that Steam backlog. Stop by the library a few days before surgery and load up on books, music, and movies you’ve been meaning to check out. Hit up the craft store, bust out some old games or puzzles, start a blog, or pick a project that you can do with just your hands. We’re sure you can come up with some great ideas on your own!
Is the pain from your foot condition getting out of hand? don’t wait another day. Give us a call—you’ll get a full examination, any tests that may be required, and a real roadmap for relief.