As a general rule, surgery is considered to be a last resort in treatment.
We will always address your foot or ankle problems with conservative care whenever we can. Sometimes, however, this is simply not possible.
When surgery is determined necessary, you will be in the hands of an accomplished surgeon at McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group. Our staff has the training, experience, and skill.
Why Might You Undergo Foot or Ankle Surgery
There are several reasons we might recommend surgery.
In some instances, conservative care is not working. At other times, the condition is progressive—such as with bunions and hammertoes—and will continue to worsen if left unaddressed.
There are also cases where surgery is necessary to restore normal foot function and/or relieve severe pain.
Certain medical issues are more likely to require surgical intervention than others, including arthritis and injuries from physical trauma. These cases won’t always need surgery, but odds are higher they will.
When treatment for an ankle injury is needed, we must consider the stability of the ankle before recommending surgery. Your mobility is the primary concern in this situation, and trying to save or re-establish your stability becomes essential.
Every situation is different, but some of the key diagnostic tools we use to determine whether to recommend surgery include MRI (magnetic resonance imagining) scans, CT (computed tomography) scans, and X-rays.
Types of Surgery
There are numerous surgical procedures some of which are complex, but here are a couple common examples.
Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery that utilizes a fiber optic camera to allow your surgeon to see what is happening inside the body on an external monitor. The advantage 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 may be required to set broken bones back into place. An incision is made to see the entire fractured bone. The fragments are reset 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 foot or ankle surgery include:
Schedule time off from work. You need time both for your procedure and the recovery process, so make sure you let your employer know. As we discuss the surgery with you, we will recommend the amount of time you will need.
Follow instructions about when to eat (or not) before surgery. This depends on whether anesthesia is going to be used, and what kind is administered.
Wear loose-fitting clothing. Comfortable clothing isn’t always the most stylish, but you’ll be glad you opted for loose-fitting clothes when you put them back on over the surgical site.
Arrange a ride home. Anesthesia and the affected foot itself are reasons you may need someone else to drive you to and from the procedure.
Make plans for childcare. If you have children living at home, especially younger ones, you may need to ask your spouse or family members to help with childcare. Chasing kids around during your recovery is often out of the question.
Post-operative 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 post-surgical care. This stage is essential for your safety and optimal recovery.
We will provide specific postoperative instructions, and your ability to heal correctly will depend on you following them, but some general considerations include:
Rest – 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, we will likely recommend or prescribe some form of medication for you. The pain-relieving properties of medicine certainly play a role, but the anti-inflammatory ones can be immensely helpful to your recovery as well.
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.
Assistive devices – Braces, casts, or other devices may be prescribed to help you keep weight off the surgery site, but still allow you to be mobile.
Physical therapy – This is a key part of postsurgical care. Stretching and strengthening exercises are essential for making sure your movement is as natural as possible as you recover.
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, McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group is here to help. Call our Carmichael, CA office at (916) 961-3434 for more information or to schedule your appointment today.