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When Foot or Ankle Surgery Is Recommended

Our specialists at Miami Valley Hospital (MVH) recommend foot and ankle surgery only when necessary; however, we commonly recommend surgery when you experience:

  • Pain due to arthritis and mechanical conditions
  • Infection
  • Injury and fractures
  • Irregularity in the shape or look of the foot or ankle, such as bunions, acquired flatfoot or crooked toes and other deformities
Dr. Peters Headshot Dr. Laughlin Headshot Dr. Barnett Headshot
Our Foot and Ankle Surgeons
Paul Peters, MD; Richard Laughlin, MD; Michael Barnett, MD

When you get to the point that you can no longer participate in your favorite activities¬—or even perform the simplest functions in your daily life—then it’s time to consider surgery.

Some conditions that might lead to foot or ankle surgery include:

  • Arthritis
  • Posterior tibial tendon disease - occurs when the tendon on the inside of the ankle becomes inflamed or torn.
  • Recurrent ankle sprains or ankle instability
  • Osteochondral defects or injuries - an area of damaged cartilage found in a joint
  • Deformity of the forefoot and toes
  • Achilles tendonitis - irritation and inflammation of the large tendon in the back of the ankle

Before Surgery

If you think foot or ankle surgery may be right for you, the first step is to schedule an office visit with a member of our team. We’ll meet with you and conduct a thorough evaluation, including a:

  • Physical exam with weight-bearing x-rays
  • Complete review of your medical history
  • Consultation to discuss your current activity level and goals
  • Review of what to expect from surgery, including all of the benefits and risks
  • Discussion of post-surgery care, making sure you’ll have help at home following your procedure

At MVH, we treat the whole patient. That’s why it’s important for us to understand everything you’re currently experiencing, along with getting to know you and your goals.  Prior to surgery, we’ll get you started with stretching and exercises to strengthen your muscles, and get you as mobile as possible before your procedure.

Total Joint Class
If you require ankle replacement surgery, you’ll also attend our Total Joint Class at MVH. Taught by experienced clinical nurses and physical therapists, you’ll learn about all aspects of your surgery, including pain management and therapy expectations after the procedure.

Patients who attend the class go into surgery with less anxiety. Prior to inpatient surgery, you’ll have a preoperative medical evaluation through our preoperative hospitalist program.

During Surgery

Orthopedic specialists at MVH choose a surgical technique that best meets your needs and preserves as much range of motion as possible.

These techniques include:

  • Joint salvage procedures
  • Arthroplasty
  • Deformity correction – such as clubfoot and other congenital deformities
  • Fracture care
  • Tendon transfers for flatfoot
  • Use of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) – a patient’s own blood is injected around a tendon to stimulate a healing response

Sometimes the traditional approach, joint fusion, is the best option but our team of experienced orthopedic surgeons also explores other methods.

Foot and ankle surgery is not laparoscopic, meaning that the procedure is not performed with a scope and multiple, smaller-sized incisions. Instead, these procedures are performed through open surgery. With open surgery, a larger incision is made to surgically fix the problem with your foot or ankle.

After Surgery

Although most foot and ankle procedures are considered outpatient procedures, sometimes you may need to spend two to three hours in the hospital for observation. We encourage all of our patients to heal at home; however if you need additional help you may go to a rehabilitation facility following surgery until you are able to bear weight on your foot or ankle.

Once discharged, you’ll need to come back for several follow-up visits—one after a week, another at three weeks, then at five to six weeks, and the last one at 10 to 12 weeks.

After your first follow-up visit, you’ll be able to wash your foot or ankle. Elevation and rest to help with swelling and recovery are especially important during the first three to five days following your procedure. By three months, our patients are usually back to doing most activities, including driving and wearing shoes.

You won’t do any dressing changes, but you’ll need to do exercises at home, as instructed by your surgeon. You might also receive physical therapy at an outpatient facility after two months, if recommended by your doctor. MVH provides physical therapy services at many different sites including onsite at both MVH and Miami Valley Hospital South (MVHS) for your convenience.

Recovery Time
In most cases, by three months, you’ll be 75 percent recovered from surgery and by six months you’ll be about 90 percent recovered. After three to four months, you’ll be able to get back into your shoes.

Pain Management
Pain relief is often the main reason for having foot or ankle surgery. Since pain is something patients fear most about surgery, we want to ensure you that our patients experience as little pain from surgery as possible.

To do this, we take a comprehensive approach to patient management that includes:

Risks and Complications
Every surgery has the risk for complications. Our specialists take every possible precaution to lessen these risks.

To prevent infection during surgery, we give you antibiotics before and after surgery. We also treat the wound very carefully during surgery to help with healing.

Our team of specialists creates and maintains an open line of communication with you and your family. This is key to monitoring your progress following surgery and to responding quickly should any complications arise at home.

If you have specific questions or concerns about risks and complications, we ask that you consult your physician.

What Makes Us Different
The foot and ankle teams at MVH and MVHS consist of three fellowship-trained foot and ankle orthopedic surgeons, who are highly trained in both traditional methods and innovative surgical techniques. For more complex conditions, we provide a multidisciplinary approach to care, offering specialties such as plastic surgery, vascular surgery, comprehensive wound care, and pain management rehabilitation services.

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