Due to its complexity and the down-time required for patient recovery, foot surgery should always be a last resort. However, there are situations which make foot surgery impossible to avoid. Although the doctors at the Foot & Ankle Center of Washington, Dr. Larry Huppin and Dr. Doug Hale, have developed a national reputation for the successful conservative treatment of a wide variety of foot conditions and foot injuries, there are times when we will recommend foot surgery for a foot fracture.
When does your foot fracture require surgery?
Essentially, the answer to this question is, “When all other options have failed or prove to be impractical and ineffective.” First, of course, it is imperative that you visit your podiatrist as soon as possible if you have injured your foot. What you believe to be a simple sprain may in fact be a partial fracture, which may become much worse without a proper examination and treatment. In fact, a simple foot injury which may have been resolved conservatively with timely treatment may eventually require surgery if left untreated.
Next, there are a few factors which must be considered to determine when surgery for foot fractures is required:
- Is the break a complete or partial fracture? If the fracture fully transects the bone from cortex to cortex, or from edge to edge, the bone may less stable during healing, which may reduce its potential for healing.
- Has the broken bone remained in proper alignment? Despite the break in the bone, if it remains in proper anatomical alignment, the healing potential is strong, while a significant shift in the affected bone will require surgery.
- Is there a large gap in the bone fracture? If the two pieces of broken bone a near enough to each other, conservative treatment will likely be successful. However, if the pieces of the broken bone show a gap of more than 2mm, surgery will be required.
- Is the bone or adjacent joint dislocated as well? A dislocated toe can usually be treated conservatively in the office, if seen soon enough, usually within 24-36 hours. If the broken bone or adjacent joint is also dislocated, surgery will usually be required, especially for larger bones.
Once the surrounding soft tissues begin to tighten up around a dislocation or fracture, it becomes virtually impossible to repair without surgery. The best way to avoid foot surgery which may otherwise be unnecessary is to see your podiatrist within 24 hours of an acute foot injury.
For an expert evaluation of your foot injury, or for a second opinion from the Seattle foot and ankle experts, make an appointment to see us in our Seattle office as soon as possible.