For Patients

Foot and Ankle Surgery FAQ

How do I know when I need foot surgery?

The need for surgery is a decision made with you and your podiatrist after an evaluation. You should meet the follow two criteria if you are considering proceeding with surgery:

1. Pain is present and limiting your ability to do the activities and things that you need to do or desire to do.

2. You have tried and failed conservative treatments. If you have not met both of these criteria you should be evaluated by a podiatrist to discuss further options.

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Will surgical implants in my foot set of metal detectors at the airport?

Most implants used in the foot including screws, plates and joint replacements do not set off metal detectors at airports. Even larger implants such a knees and hips can sometimes escape detection. If you have more extensive foot surgery following a trauma or reconstructive surgery, the implants may set off the detectors, but this is uncommon. 

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What causes my foot to feel like I am walking on a stone when barefoot?

Pain of this type typically occurs under the ball of the foot and is caused by an inflamed nerve called a neuroma. Neuromas are treated with special padding or inserts and often with injections and anti-inflammatory medications to reduce inflammation and pain.

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What causes a hammertoe?

A hammertoe is essentially a condition where the toe is bent at the joint. You can be born with feet that have hammertoes or you can develop them by constantly wearing shoes that are too small, too pointed or with heels that are too high. 

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If I have had hammertoes for years, why do they hurt now?

In the early stages of a hammertoe, the joints of the toes are flexible and bend, they can be straightened without difficulty. As the years progress, the toes may reach a point where they do not straighten so easily. Without this flexibility, the joint can rub again the shoe making it uncomfortable. 

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How long does it take to recover from bunion surgery?

There is no simple answer to this question since all surgeries and all patients are different. The most common bunion surgery is called an Austin bunionectomy. It takes approximately 8-10 weeks for a full recovery from this procedure. Some types of bunionectomies may require 10-12 weeks for full recovery, including 6-8 weeks non-weightbearing movement with crutches or a walker. You should plan to discuss the particulars of the surgical procedure as well as the expected recovery with your surgeon. 

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How do I know if I should see a podiatrist or an orthopedic surgeon for my foot problem?

The surgical training for a podiatrist centers only around the foot and ankle, this is not the case with the orthopedic surgeon whose surgical practice may include the knees, hips, shoulders, arms, hands, etc. When it comes to a foot and ankle problem, remember this is all a podiatrist does. What better expert can you have than one who spends all their time treating only foot and ankle problems?

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I do not like the way my feet look. I have heard of people getting cosmetic surgery to improve the appearance of their feet. Does your practice provide this type of surgery?

All of the surgeons in our practice believe in a “first do no harm” philosophy. Considering the risk of any surgery, we only perform surgery on people whose feet are painful, and for those whom conservative treatment has failed to help. We do, however, believe in aesthetic surgery which is the use of the best surgical technique and principles to provide a cosmetically pleasing post-operative result as well as functional improvement of the foot. 

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