Surgery to realign toes, remove bunions and nerves and to repair foot injuries was revolutionary in the 1920s when doctors at the University of Massachusetts Medical School documented successful experimental foot procedures. Modern foot surgery is now routine and typically done at out-patient facilities, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
A bunionectomy removes the "hallux valgus," commonly called a bunion. The bunion is a deformity appearing at the bottom of the big toe joint, It is caused by genetics or poor footwear selection. Bunions can become arthritic or so large that the growth interferes with wearing shoes. Surgery to remove the bunion involves cutting into the skin and filing or scraping the bone to remove the growth.
The osteotomy is a more advanced surgery to realign the toes after a bunion has been removed. Distal and proximal are two types of osteotomy. The difference deals with the location of the incision. The distal surgery moves the bone sideways through one or two incisions, while the proximal operation uses an incision at the end of the bone and could require more incisions to compete. Both types of surgeries pin the bones until the healing is complete.
A capsulotomy is a surgical procedure done typically during or after a bunionetomy. The surgeon cuts the tendons on the sides of the large toe in order to properly realign the toe. A joint capsule is inserted on the interior side of the toe to adjust the alignment. This allows the surgeon to balance the big toe in relation to the other toes.
There are many types of surgical fusions for the foot that use the insertion of screws to immobilize one or more bones. The operations include a fusion of the tibial/fibular (midfoot area), a surgery to realign the foot, and the talonavicular (midfoot area) fusion also dealing with foot alignment. Surgery on the subtalar (rear foot area) fuses only the subtalar joint, while the calcaneocuboid (hindfoot area) procedure fuses together the calcaneous and cuboid bones. A general midfoot fusion surgery consists of inserting screws into any of the bones causing pain in the midfoot area. Fusion surgery is required for numerous injuries related to body mass, work accidents and injuries caused by sport and physical exercise.
Neuromas, commonly called "pinched nerves," may require foot surgery if the pain interferes with normal activities. The cause of the pain is found in the tissue that grows around the nerve, usually in the toe area. The pain is felt in the ball of the foot and sufferers describe a feeling of burning or tingling. The area may also feel numb. While the exact cause of neuromas is unknown, women frequently experience neuromas because of the wearing of high-heeled shoes. The surgery involves removing the tissue surrounding the painful nerve.