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Foot and Ankle Surgical Procedures

Dr. Kevin Powers is committed to helping you and your loved ones overcome foot pain and difficulty. In doing so, the first step after identifying the problem is to determine if conservative treatment options will be effective. Fortunately, many lower limb problems are successfully resolved without needing surgical intervention. There are times, however, when foot and ankle surgeries are the best way to help a patient find relief from a condition causing severe pain and immobility.

If Dr. Powers recommends a foot or ankle surgery, you can rest assured knowing he has performed countless successful procedures for patients throughout the years and has the expert skill and knowledge to do the same for you!

Why You Might Need a Foot or Ankle Surgery

Foot and Ankle SurgeryThere are a couple of reasons why surgery would be recommended to address a foot or ankle problem. In some cases, the condition is unresponsive to conservative care. Other times, it is progressive—as is the case with bunions and hammertoes—and will worsen over time if left untreated. Still, other patients may need a surgical procedure to relieve severe pain or restore normal functionality.

Some conditions and situations are more likely to require surgical intervention than others. Arthritis, injury from physical trauma, cartilage damage, bones spurs, posterior ankle pain, and ankle replacements are all examples of times when Dr. Powers may recommend surgery.

When a patient’s arthritis does not respond well to nonsurgical procedures, especially in severe cases, the bones of the joint may be fused together. This form of surgery has a high success rate and only a small percentage of patients have complications.

In the event of severe trauma, where a fracture occurs in the ankle, broken bones decrease the level of stability in the joint and need to be repaired. Over the past 30 to 40 years, there has been an increase in the number of surgeries needed for this reason due to greater activity levels in the older population.

Cartilage damage happens as a result of either injury or normal wear and tear. Procedures are available to stimulate the growth of new tissue, as it does not completely heal itself.

Bones spurs, posterior ankle pain, and ankle replacements are additional ailments that typically require an operation to be performed.

Plantar fasciitis is the leading cause of heel pain for adults. Fortunately, conservative care is often quite effective at addressing the problem, but there are times when surgery is necessary.

How to Know if Surgery is Needed

Some of the key tools in deciding whether an operation is needed or not include: x-rays, CT (computed tomography) scans, and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans.

Foot and Ankle InjuryThe most important factor in Dr. Powers’ decision whether or not to recommend operating on an ankle is the stability of your ankle joint. If the result of your existing condition is an unstable joint, then surgery is likely going to be recommended. Your mobility is the primary concern in this situation, and trying to save or re-establish it becomes paramount.

In the instance of a compound fracture in either the foot or ankle, surgery becomes an obvious necessity. In part, there are high odds of infection—caused by breakage in the skin—and immediate operation is needed in order to prevent contamination. But there is also an urgent need to stabilize the fracture as quickly as possible.

Types of Surgery

Arthroscopy is a minimally-invasive surgery that utilizes a fiber optic camera to allow the surgeon to see what is happening inside the body on an external monitor. The advantage to this kind of procedure is that only small incisions are required. This eliminates most of the difficulties (potential infection and patient pain) encountered with large cuts.

ORIF (open reduction and internal fixation) is more invasive than arthroscopy, but can be required to set broken bones back into place. This is done in a traditional procedure, where an incision is made to see the entire fractured bone. The fragments are placed back into position and held there with metal plates and/or screws.

Preparing for Foot or Ankle Surgery

Some of the considerations you need to keep in mind when preparing for lower limb surgery include:

  • Scheduling time off from work. You will need time both for your procedure and the recovery process, so make sure you let your employer know. As Dr. Powers discusses the surgery with you, he can let you know what you should expect timewise.
  • Following instructions about when to eat (or not) before surgery. This will be dictated by whether or not anesthesia is going to be used, and what kind is administered.
  • Wearing loose-fitting clothing. Comfortable clothing isn’t always the most stylish, but you will be glad you opted for loosing-fitting clothes when you put them back on over the surgical site.
  • Arranging a ride home. Both anesthesia and the affected foot itself are reasons you will likely need someone else to drive you to and from the procedure.
  • Making plans for child care. If you have children living at home, especially younger ones, you may need to ask your spouse or family members to help with child care. You will need to spend time resting during recovery and your mobility may be limited, so chasing kids around is out of the question.

Postoperative Care and Recovery

The actual procedure is, of course, an important part of the whole process, but you do not want to underestimate the importance of postsurgical care. This stage is essential for your safety and optimal recovery. Dr. Powers will provide specific postoperative instructions, and your ability to heal correctly will depend on you following them, but some general considerations include:

  • Rest – Surgery is a big deal. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t take as many measures as possible to avoid using it as a treatment option. Since it is, though, you will need to give your body the chance to perform its natural healing processes after the procedure.
  • Medication – Depending on your procedure and situation, Dr. Powers will likely recommend or prescribe some form of medication for you. The pain-relieving properties of medicine certainly plays a role, but the anti-inflammatory ones can be immensely helpful in assisting with your recovery.
  • Restricted movement – In time, the amount and range of movement will increase, but we may recommend you limit how much you move the affected area for at least a certain period of time.
  • Assistive devices – Braces, casts, or other devices may be prescribed to help you keep weight off of the repaired, but still allow you to be mobile.
  • Physical therapy – As you recover, it will be necessary for you to gradually ease into physical movement. To that end, physical therapy is a key part of postsurgical care. Stretching and strengthening exercises are essential for making sure your movement is as natural as possible.
  • Hygienic practices – The potential for infection is one of the risks of surgery. This risk doesn’t end once the procedure is completed, though. It is essential that you keep any insertion points clean to reduce your infection risk.
  • Follow-up appointments – Don’t worry, you’re not on your own after the surgery! We will schedule follow-up appointments to monitor your progress and ensure everything is mending like it should.

Electing to have surgery is not an easy decision. Our goal is to make it easier on you by consistently providing first-class care and treatment and earning the positive referrals our patients give. When you need a surgical procedure to put your foot or ankle pain behind you, Dr. Kevin Powers is here to help. Call our Bloomington, IN office at (812) 333-4422 for more information or to schedule your appointment today.

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