Too many people live with foot pain because they are afraid surgery may be required to fix their issue. Rather than investigate their pain, they allow the problem to get worse. However, surgery can make a significant difference for your comfort and foot health. If you’re struggling with persistent forefoot or ball of the foot pain and weakness, you may benefit from metatarsal surgery.
What Is It?
Your metatarsals function as key, weight-bearing support structures in your forefoot. You have five of them, one behind each toe. Metatarsal surgery is any sort of invasive procedure that works to remedy an issue with these five bones. Although it’s never considered a “first” option, sometimes conservative treatments fail and surgery is needed.
The most common procedure is actually a bunion surgery. This works to correct the displaced big toe and first metatarsal to eliminate the painful bulge at the joint where those two meet. Another common procedure fixes a bunionette, which is a similar problem affecting the smallest toe and the fifth metatarsal. Surgery on the other three bones is uncommon, but it does happen for a variety of reasons.
Why Have It?
Often surgery of the lesser metatarsals—the second through fifth of the long bones—is done to correct abnormal alignment that could be causing painful pressure on the ball of the foot. If one bone is longer or shorter than normal, or is displaced downward slightly, the force from your body weight can create painful plantar calluses. If you have a condition that weakens your immune system, like diabetes, this could also put you at risk for developing ulcers.
Fractures in the forefoot can require surgery as well. Typically breaks are treatable with conservative methods, but sometimes the bone needs to be realigned or simply doesn’t want to heal. In those cases, you need a procedure to correct the damage and restore your foot to full strength.
What Gets Done?
The kind of surgery you will need, if you need one at all, is determined by a specialist like Dr. Robert Parker. Our staff here at Parker Foot & Ankle will thoroughly examine your forefoot to see what damage is present and if you would benefit from metatarsal surgery. Diagnostic images and other tests will help us obtain a clearer diagnosis of your condition and its extent. If other options have not been successful, we can discuss the possibility of an invasive procedure.
How the procedures are performed depends on your specific needs. For lesser metatarsal problems causing plantar calluses or ulcers, the bones may need to be cut and realigned so you do not experience excessive pressure in one spot. Sometimes your foot needs pins or plates to hold the bones in place as they heal. Fractures may also need hardware to keep the bones still and aligned as they recover. Bunion and bunionette procedures use a variety of techniques, including cutting and moving bones, to restore everything to the correct position.
Don’t let a fear of a surgical procedures keep you from seeking treatment for your forefoot pain. A metatarsal surgery could mean the difference between being restricted by discomfort and unable to participate in your favorite activities, and walking around free of pain again. Contact Parker Foot & Ankle here in Houston, TX, for more information or an appointment. Use our website request form or call us at (281) 497-2850.