Which common foot and ankle surgeries typically require surgery?
All serious foot and ankle injuries should be evaluated promptly. If there is any question about whether surgery may be necessary, that evaluation should be performed by a skilled, board certified foot and ankle orthopedic surgeon. Even injuries that seem relatively mild should be professionally diagnosed if they result in pain and swelling that persists after rest and ice applications. While there are a great many types of foot and ankle surgeries of varying complexities, the ones listed below are those performed in response to frequently occurring injuries.
Achilles Tendon Tears or Ruptures
Injuries to the Achilles tendon usually occur due to the stresses of running and jumping, often during athletic activity. Such injuries result in a separation of the tendon fibers that interferes with normal function. Depending on their severity, such injuries may be treated nonsurgically or surgically.
The fracture of one bone may heal properly after a simple casting. A more complex fracture, however, that involves more than one bone and perhaps ligaments as well, may require surgery to hold the ankle bones in position with the help of a plate and screws.
Ankle fractures in children are particularly tricky because they involve growth plates. Such injuries must be treated with special care to ensure that the child’s legs grow properly, remaining straight and of equal length.
Heel Bone (Calcaneus) Fractures
Fractures of the heel bone typically occur during a vehicular accident or a fall from a height, when the heel is crushed under the weight of the body. This injury requires highly skilled reconstruction of the heel to ensure proper healing and future mobility.
Lisfranc (Midfoot) Injury
While Lisfranc injuries are frequently mistaken for simple sprains, they can be quite severe, sometimes involving many bones and joints of the midfoot. Lisfranc injuries may take months to heal and frequently require surgery.
Pilon Fractures of the Ankle
Pilon fractures are breaks that occur at the bottom of the shinbone (tibia) and involve the weight-bearing surface of the ankle joint. Often, the fibula, the other bone in the lower leg, breaks during the same event. Pilon fractures, which are injuries involving a crush, typically occur during vehicular accidents or falls from a height. Most often, surgery is needed to restore the damaged bone.
Talus fractures are breaks that involve the talus bone of the ankle and often result in a substantial loss of motion and function. Because talus fractures, which typically occur after car accidents or high-velocity falls, can cause serious problems if they don’t heal properly, they usually require surgical repair.
For all of these common foot and ankle injuries, immediate orthopedic evaluation is necessary in order to hasten recovery and prevent future complications.