If you’re having foot trouble, surgery from Duchy Hospital may help to get you back on your feet.
Nothing beats a stroll along the beach, and with miles of beautiful coastline stretching the length of Cornwall, we’re really spoilt for choice here. But being on our feet for long stretches means we need to look after them too! “A lot of demand is put on the forefoot,” explains Mr Butler, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Duchy Hospital, Truro. The foot is an extremely complex structure, made up of 26 bones, 33 joints, more than 100 ligaments, and 19 muscles and tendons. In fact, 25% of the bones in your body are found in your feet.
A common problem is Hallux Valgus or ‘bunions’, causing a deformity at the base of the big toe. The enlarged joint can become inflamed as extra bone and tissue swelling grow and may cause painful rubbing on previously comfortable shoe wear, as well as pain and deformity in the lesser toes.
First steps involve adjusting shoe wear or getting wider fitting shoes. Often referral to a podiatrist can help advise on shoe wear and exercises, perhaps recommending an orthotic (special insole) for your shoe. Anti-inflammatory medication can also help. Corrective surgery may be useful for severe pain or deformity, if conservative measures haven’t proved successful.
Arthritis of the big toe (Hallux Rigidus) is a common condition causing the toe’s base to stiffen, becoming very painful and often leading to bone spurs. As it progresses, it can cause a prominent bump, affecting your gait, potentially contributing to metatarsalgia, forcing the lesser toes to work too hard. If conservative treatment fails, then injections or a big toe fusion, or, rarely, a partial joint replacement may help.
Other conditions include claw toes, hammer toes and mallet toes, which may cause severe pain and rubbing or may contribute to metatarsalgia. Conservative measures are always the first option, such as a podiatry review, orthotics and a review of shoe wear.
Surgery should only be considered as a last resort, bearing in mind that there are risks as well as benefits. But with proper patient selection and appropriate surgery with an expert orthopaedic surgeon, there is a very high chance of a good result in most patients.
Surgery aims to improve symptoms and not provide a cure, and while there can be some associated complications, such as numbness or poor alignment, studies have shown that over 90% of patients are satisfied with the result. If you suffer with foot pain, it may be useful to consult an expert to ensure you have the correct diagnosis and treatment.
Penventinnie Lane, Truro TR1 3UP