Osteoarthritis of the Foot: Surgical Options for Pain Relief
LipoAdvisor Notice: Our main interest is obviously on liposuction, plastic surgery and other cosmetic procedures but every now and then we are willing to explore other medical areas, especially when the experts are willing to share their knowledge.. this is one such article regarding the surgical relief of foot osteoarthritis
by the Infinity Foot & Ankle Team
Osteoarthritis is a painful degenerative condition that causes cartilage in the joints to break down. Cartilage protects and cushions bones as they move. As this cartilage breaks down, you will begin to notice symptoms like joint stiffness, swelling, difficulty walking, or pain. Osteoarthritis can affect any joints in the body, particularly the knees, hands, hips, and feet. In the feet, osteoarthritis often occurs in the big toe or the ankle.
While over-the-counter pain medication and anti-inflammatory drugs can reduce swelling and pain, there is nothing that can stop the progression of the disease and surgery may eventually be necessary. Surgery is reserved for serious cases of arthritis, although there are several different surgical approaches depending on the severity of your condition and the joint that is damaged. Here’s an overview of common surgical options for foot osteoporosis.
Arthroscopic debridement (cleansing) is a surgical technique that’s most helpful in the early stages of the disease. This surgical procedure removes bone spurs and loose cartilage and it’s less invasive than other options. During arthroscopic surgery, a small camera will be inserted into the joint through a small incision. This instrument will allow the surgeon to view the damaged tissue and guide thin surgical instruments.
This type of surgery may be a good option for you if you have joint pain due to contact between bone spurs as long as the arthritis hasn’t progressed to the point where the joint space between the bones is very narrow. Unfortunately, this procedure can also cause cartilage to wear away even faster and accelerate some forms of arthritis.
Arthrodesis, or fusion, is a surgical procedure that actually fuses the bones of a joint, creating one bone where there were two or more. By fusing the bones, movement in the joint is eliminated. This prevents pain caused by friction. During arthrodesis, damaged cartilage is completely removed and pines, screws, or plates are used to join the bones together. Over months and years, the bones fuse together as they heal.
This procedure has a very high success rate at eliminating pain although there can be complications. Sometimes the hardware will break down or the joint will not fuse, particularly if you put weight on the joint while it heals. This may require another surgery to install new hardware or place a graft.
Severe osteoarthritis of the ankle may require total ankle replacement, or arthroplasty. This procedure requires removing the bone and cartilage and replacing it with a plastic or metal joint. Arthroplasty restores function but it’s only recommended for very advanced arthritis that causes pain or interferes with daily life.
Joint replacement surgery can improve your quality of life by restoring mobility and movement of the joint, although there is a risk that the new joint will fail and require revision surgery.
If steroid injections or over-the-counter medications are not helping with the pain, or you’re dealing with severe joint pain, mobility problems, and difficulty walking, it may be time to consider surgery. The goal of any surgical procedure is reducing pain and improving function of the joint. Your podiatrist will consider several factors to help you make an informed decision about whether surgery is the right move and which procedure will offer you the greatest chance of success.