Foot Surgery

The doctor will recommend if you need foot surgery and the best setting based on the surgery you will have, your age, medical history, and health plan.

A Look at Common Foot Surgeries


Surgery for Bunions

  • Positional bunionectomy: This is a bony growth on the base of the big toe that enlarges the joint. In surgery, the doctor will remove the bump and may release soft tissue that has tightened.
  • Metatarsal head osteotomy: Sometimes bony growths may form, resulting in irritation and swelling. This results in the angle of the first and second toe bones increasing beyond normal and can be correct by surgery. A surgeon performs a metatarsal head osteotomy to cut and reposition the bone and any bumps are remolded.
  • Metatarsal base osteotomy: If the angle between the first and second toe bones is excessive, a surgeon may conduct a metatarsal base osteotomy.  In this procedure, a wedge of bone is removed from the base of the big toe bone and the bone is repositioned and wires or screws may be inserted to stabilize the bone.

Surgery for Hammertoes

  • If you have a flexible hammertoe, the doctor will reposition the tendons to allow the toe to lie flat. Afterward, the doctor may recommend that you wear a surgical shoe for several weeks.
  • For a rigid hammertoe, several types of treatments are available:
    • Arthroplasty: The doctor removes a portion of the joint and straightens the toe.
    • Fusion: The doctor removes cartilage between the two toe bones so that the bones fuse to form one longer bone.
    • Implant: In some situations, the doctor will remove a portion of the bone and replace it with an implant.

Surgery for Arthritis

  • Arthritis is a condition characterized by inflammation and swelling of the joint lining and degeneration of the cartilage. Fluid usually accumulates in the joints. Arthritis can affect the big toe joint, causing pain and reduced motion. A bunion-like protrusion also may be present. There are a variety of surgical procedures to treat this condition.

Surgery for Neuromas

  • A neuroma is a benign growth that occurs as a result of an enlarged nerve that has been compressed between two toe bones. When a neuroma is removed or "excised," a small portion of the nerve is cut out.

Surgery for Ingrown Toenails

  • A nail becomes ingrown when it curves down at the sides and grows into the skin. This can be repaired in a procedure called a partial surgical matricectomy. The doctor removes a section of the toenail and the underlying nail matrix (cells that make the nail). This can be done through surgical excision, chemical, or laser destruction.

When to call the doctor:

  Follow your doctor's instructions for continued care of your foot and remember that every individual recovers differently. Call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:
  • Blood appears on the bandage (a small amount is to be expected)
  • Your dressing becomes tight or your foot is cold or numb
  • You develop a temperature of 101 degrees or more
  • Your cast or bandages get wet
  • You experience persistent pain