Foot Surgery from A to Z

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Foot Neuropathy
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If you have a foot problem that hasn’t improved with other, more conservative treatments, your next step may be surgery. Surgical procedures are available for a wide range of foot conditions. Here’s a rundown of some of the most common types.

Bunion Surgery

A bunion is a bump made of soft tissue and bone located on the first joint of the big toe. With time, a bunion can become quite painful. You may need bunion surgery—bunionectomy—if you have severe pain that limits your ability to walk, wear closed shoes, or do other everyday activities.

The goal of surgery is to realign the joint and relieve pain. There are many different types of bunion surgeries. Some remove the damaged joint while others cut and realign the joint. Your doctor can help you decide which one is right for you. 

Fusion Surgery

Fusion surgeries are done to relieve pain from arthritis in the foot or ankle. Arthritis can cause cartilage to wear away, allowing the bones to rub together. The goal of fusion surgery is to join the bones together so they no longer rub and cause pain. 

Hammertoe Surgery

A hammertoe is a foot deformity that causes the middle of a toe to bend upward like a hammer. It can cause pain, especially when wearing shoes. You may need surgery if other treatments haven’t helped relieve the pain.

There are a few types of surgery for hammertoe. Your doctor may cut or move tendons, bone or joints to straighten the toe. He or she may also use pins or screws to hold the toe straight while it heals. 

Heel Surgery

Heel surgery is done to relieve pain in the heel when other treatments haven’t worked. There are several types of heel surgery, but the most common involves the plantar fascia, which is a band of tissue that connects the toes to the heel bone. During the surgery, the doctor removes or releases part of this tissue that’s causing pain. Plantar fascia release is another name for this surgery.

Metatarsal Surgery

The metatarsals are the bones that connect the toes to the foot. Your doctor may recommend metatarsal surgery to fix a deformed or dislocated toe. It can also help relieve pain in the ball of the foot. In most cases, the surgery involves cutting and shortening one of the bones. 

Neuroma Surgery

A neuroma is a thick area of tissue around the nerve in a toe. It can cause pain in the ball of your foot that feels as if you’re walking on a pebble. A neuroma can also cause a burning pain or feeling of numbness in the toes.

In most cases, your doctor will recommend nonsurgical treatments like anti-inflammatory medicines and special pads in your shoes to reduce pressure on the nerve. But if these treatments don’t work, your doctor may suggest surgery to cut out a small part of the nerve. 

Tendon Surgery

Tendons are very strong bands of tissue connecting your muscles to bone. Surgery may shorten or lengthen a tendon or may reroute a tendon, also called a tendon transfer. These types of surgeries help improve movement in the foot or ankle.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Apr 10
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Bunion surgery. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00140
  2. Hammertoe surgery. American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society. http://www.aofas.org/footcaremd/treatments/Pages/Hammertoe-Surgery.aspx
  3. Lesser metatarsal shortening osteotomy. American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society. http://www.aofas.org/footcaremd/treatments/Pages/Lesser-Metatarsal-Shortening-Osteotomy.aspx
  4. Morton’s neuroma. American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society. http://www.aofas.org/footcaremd/conditions/ailments-of-the-big-toe/Pages/Mortons-Neuroma.aspx
  5. Naviculocuneiform fusion. American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society. http://www.aofas.org/footcaremd/treatments/Pages/Naviculocuneiform-Fusion-.aspx
  6. Plantar fascia release. American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society. http://www.aofas.org/footcaremd/treatments/Pages/Plantar-Fascia-Release.aspx
  7. Surgery. American Podiatric Medical Association. http://www.apma.org/Learn/FootHealth.cfm?ItemNumber=1560.
  8. Tendon transfers. American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society. http://www.aofas.org/footcaremd/treatments/Pages/Tendon-Transfers.aspx