Surgical options for arthritis and other problems that affect the feet.
If the feet are injured or arthritis in the toes and other joints causes constant pain, interferes with walking and makes it difficult to wear shoes, surgery may be an option – or a necessity. Here are some of the most commonly performed arthritis-related foot surgeries.
- Fracture repair. Although most fractures of the foot can heal with the use of a cast, rigid shoe or, in the case of broken toes, taping the broken toe to a healthy one, some breaks require surgery to repair. This is especially true if a bone is displaced, or broken in such as way that the broken ends don't line up and have changed position. In this case, surgery may involve repositioning the bone and placing hardware to hold it in place while it heals.
- Arthroscopic debridement. In the early stages of arthritis, arthroscopic surgery may be helpful for removing inflamed tissue or spurs that have formed on the joint. Arthroscopic surgery is performed using a lighted scope inserted through a small incision in the skin over the joint. The scope, which is fitted with a camera, illuminates the inside of the joint and projects images of the joint onto a television monitor. Guided by the pictures on the monitor, the doctor is able to insert small surgical instruments through additional incisions to make surgical repairs to the joint.
- Joint fusion. Also called arthrodesis, joint fusion involves removing the ends of the bones where they meet to form joints and then joining the two ends with pins or screws until they fuse into one rigid unit. Joint fusion may be used on the big toe for bunions or damage caused by arthritis. On the smaller toes, it may be used to correct deformities such as hammer toe or claw toe. In most cases, however, less invasive surgeries are effective for correcting these deformities.
- Osteotomy. This procedure involves cutting bones to realign a joint. In the foot, the most common use of osteotomy is to correct bunions.