By Wei Shen, MD, OAM Foot and Ankle Surgeon
Foot pain is quite common and can come in many forms. Common foot complaints include: bunions, hammertoes, arthritis, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, bone spurs and acute trauma issues like fractures or ligamentous injuries. Most foot and ankle conditions – excluding traumatic fractures – can initially be treated conservatively with non-operative treatment as they are chronic in nature. If and when patients experience pain so great, there are surgical treatments to help correct the problem in an anatomic fashion. That said, most foot and ankle surgeries are elective.
If you are experiencing foot pain that lasts more than a few days and is not helped by ice or anti-inflammatory medication, it is important to be seen by a foot and ankle surgeon. While the pain might go away on its own, you should be seen quickly to rule out a fracture, ligament rupture or tendon tear. When treatment is delayed, something that could be treated and healed quickly could potentially become permanently damaged.
Looking at training, experience and volume is important when choosing a surgeon.
Other doctors who treat foot conditions include trauma surgeons, sports medicine surgeons. and podiatrists. While trauma and sports medicine surgeons can treat foot conditions such as Achilles tendon tears or foot fractures, they likely don’t have as much experience with issues unique to the foot as a foot and ankle surgeon does. One of the main differences between a podiatrist and an orthopedic surgeon is their education and training – podiatrists attend podiatry school while foot and ankle surgeons attend medical school followed by residency and fellowship, which provide much more extensive experience and expertise.
If surgery is the best path forward for a patient, there are so many different procedures and techniques even for just one condition. It’s important to do the right procedure for the right patient, to be educated on the pros and cons of each and to understand why some procedures work for some patients and not others. It is vital to get surgery right the first time. Subsequent surgeries – or revisions – can become complicated and potentially diminish a patient’s success.
About Dr. Wei Shen
Dr. Shen is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon at Orthopaedic Associates of Manhasset, specializing in the foot and ankle. Please call his office at (516) 627-8717 to schedule an appointment or request an appointment online.