When everything is fine, it’s easy not to even think about our feet. But if a foot condition develops that causes pain and deformity, it is hard to be able to think of anything else. Our feet are our vehicle; they take us where we need to go; they carry all our weight. So when something goes wrong with them, it can disrupt how we live our day-to-day lives.
We can take a number of steps to prevent various foot maladies. Wearing shoes with good support and adequate toe room is one of the main ones. Being fitted for orthotics when the foot’s own arch protection is lacking is another. As we age, our feet can experience changes due to arthritis. We can even inherit foot problems from our parents.
There are two common foot deformities that can alter a person’s life due to pain and difficulty in wearing shoes. A podiatrist can surgically intervene to fix these deformities.
A bunion is a jutting of bone and tissue around the joint at the base of the big toe as the big toe starts moving toward the smaller toes. People with low arches or flat feet are more prone to developing bunions. Women are more prone to bunions due to tight, pointed toe, confining, or high-heeled shoes.
People with bunions should also know that there is a strong hereditary link to developing bunions. When bunions interfere with your activities, podiatric surgery may be necessary. Pain and deformity are significantly reduced in the majority of patients who undergo bunion surgery.
In addition to easing pain, bunion surgery also removes the enlargement and realigns the joint to restore normal function and allows the foot to carry the body’s weight properly. Bunion surgery is performed with local or spinal anesthesia. Recuperation takes time, and swelling and discomfort are common for several weeks. This can be managed with medicine. Once healed, foot function, in most cases, returns to normal.
Hammertoe is the bending of the toe bone so that if looked at from the side, the toe looks like and upside-down V. Corns develop on the top of the deformed joint and pain develops in the joint and in the ball of the foot at the base of the affected toe.
Any toe can be involved, but the condition usually affects the four smaller toes. If a hammertoe is treated while the joint is still movable, it can usually be taken care of through non-surgical means. But if the hammertoe becomes rigid – that is, the deformed joint doesn’t move – podiatric surgery is indicated to fix the problem.
The surgery will remove the bony corn and restore the normal alignment of the toe joint, thus relieving the pain. Hammertoe surgery can be done under local or spinal anesthesia. Recuperation takes time and swelling and discomfort are common for several weeks. This can be managed with medicine. In most cases, once healed, foot function is returned to normal.
Both these procedures are same-day surgeries and are available to our community at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital.
David Liebow, DPM, is board certified in Podiatric Primary Care and Podiatric Surgery. He attended Medical School at Temple University and completed surgical residencies at Sheehan Memorial Hospital in NY and Buffalo VAMC in NY. He is an associate in the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. His office is at 382 Canal Street, Brattleboro. For an appointment or more information, call 802-254-0202.