Going to the doctor probably doesn't rank among your favorite activities -- but when you're struggling to walk due to a foot problem, you may have no alternative. Fortunately, many issues such as bruises, stubbed toes, and minor sprains require nothing more than some first aid and home care advice from your family doctor. Some foot problems, however, merit attention from an experienced orthopaedic surgeon. Here are three occasions when you should make an appointment with this type of medical specialist.
1. Fractured Heel
The calcaneus, or heel bone, is the largest single bone in the foot, and it must withstand a great deal of stress as it accommodates your body weight on a daily basis. Unfortunately, this bone has its limits. If you fall off of a ladder onto your feet, or your foot sustains a strong impact, the heel bone can break into multiple pieces, making it impossible for you to put any weight on it at all. This type of injury can present some tricky treatment challenges, which is why it is usually handled by an orthopaedic surgeon. Your doctor might be able to set the bones manually, or your fracture may heal itself if the fragments aren't displaced. If the bone fragments are out of alignment with each other, however, you probably need orthopaedic surgery to shift them back into place. Your surgeon may:
- Insert screws through the skin of the heel directly into the bone to keep them in the proper position for optimal healing
- Perform an open reduction and internal fixation, which involves making an incision and then driving the screws into the bone through metal brackets
2. Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Do you experience pain, numbness, and tingling in your heel, your ankle, or the sole of your foot? If so, you may be experienced a form of nerve impingement called tarsal tunnel syndrome. This condition is much like carpal tunnel syndrome, except that it affects the tibial nerve in the ankle instead of the median nerve in the wrist. Your orthopaedic surgeon will want to start out with non-surgical treatment methods such as rest for the foot, anti-inflammatory drugs, supportive shoe inserts and/or a night brace or splint. If these methods fail to ease your symptoms, you might need a surgical procedure called a tarsal tunnel release. In this procedure, the surgeon cuts tissues to release the ligament surrounding (and pinching) the tibial nerve.
3. Severe Bunions
Bunions can make your feet look ugly and make the search for comfortable shoes an ongoing, frustrating quest. Over-the-counter pads and shoe inserts can often help mild to moderate bunions -- but severe bunions may call for surgical intervention. Your orthopaedic surgeon can remove the sections of bone that bulge outward and cause pain. You might even benefit from having certain parts of your foot bones surgically realigned with the aid of pins or screws.
You only get one pair of feet so give these complex structures the care they deserve. Contact your local orthopaedic surgeon today to schedule a consultation!Share