Our feet and ankles carry us through life, taking on the stresses and strains of the body as we move about each day. This makes ankle pain particularly debilitating when it restricts our mobility and negatively impacts our quality of life. The good news is that there are a number of ways in which it can be treated. Take a look below to explore treatments for ankle problems.
Achilles tendon repair
A ruptured Achilles tendon can be repaired either non-surgically, via a cast or brace, or via surgery where the tendon is stitched together. A cast or brace is put on the leg after surgery for up to eight weeks to help it heal.
This surgical procedure is performed via keyhole surgery using an arthroscope attached to a video camera. It is used to repair damage caused to the ankle ligaments and tendons due to trauma and general wear-and-tear.
The idea of this procedure is to convert an arthritic joint into a stiff, pain-free one. It involves the sacrifice of ankle mobility for pain relief and is a more common surgery than ankle replacement.
Ankle replacement surgery
Ankle replacement surgery is the replacing of a damaged ankle with an artificial joint. The type of joint you need will depend on the condition of your ankle, but the procedure generally involves attaching artificial metal joints to the remaining bone surfaces, with a piece of plastic inserted between them. Ankle replacement surgery is recommended for specific cases of arthritis depending on the patient’s age, activity levels and consultant’s preference.
Discover treatments that can address a wide range of foot issues and injuries.
A bunion (also called Bunions Hallux Valgus) is a painful, often inflamed deformity of the big toe joint which usually gets worse over time. Surgical correction commonly involves further procedures rather than only removing the bony lump or the inflamed bursa; such as realignment of the metatarsal bone using metal screws or other fixation techniques.
Bunionette is a painful chronic swelling with bony protuberance on the lateral side of the fifth metatarsal head which can be removed successfully with surgery.
Flat foot correction
Flat feet or fallen arches cause the arch, instep or inside of the foot to be flat on the ground when standing (normally it should be raised). Treatment is usually in the form of corrective insoles (orthotics) in shoes. Surgery is rare and usually only used when the foot needs straightening.
Minimally invasive foot surgery
This includes any surgical procedure on the foot that uses the latest technology to make fewer, smaller incisions, resulting in reduced tissue damage and scarring. Cases can often be treated on a day patient basis.
Minor lumps and bumps removal
Lumps like ganglions beneath the skin can be removed if they are causing foot or ankle pain or difficulty with footwear.
This is a surgical procedure that involves part of a bone being cut to shorten or realign it. It is sometimes performed as part of bunion surgery or to relieve pain in arthritis cases and uses general anaesthetic.
Removal of internal fixation
This surgical procedure is to remove any internal fixations e.g. screws, wires, plates.
Stiff big toe (hallux rigidus)
This is a form of degenerative arthritis which causes bone deformity, pain and stiffness in the big toe joint. The chronic, painful, limited motion of the big toe joint can be successfully treated surgically.
This surgical procedure is performed to either correct rigid deformity or instability of the subtalar joint or to remove painful arthritis of this joint. During surgery, this joint between the talus bone above and calcaneus bone below is removed as the joint surfaces are fixed together.
Therapeutic injection for foot pain relief
Injections are a fast, easy and temporary method of easing joint pain and inflammation in the foot or ankle caused by arthritis/osteoarthritis. Injections include steroids, to ease inflammation, and Hyaluronate, which helps the joint to move more smoothly.
Tendonitis (inflammation) of the tendoachilles
We treat and manage patients who suffer from tendonitis of the tendoachilles, a condition which can be caused by sports injuries or intense physical activity, such as running and jumping. It responds to non surgical treatment. We will not treat patients who have suffered a rupture of the tendon.
Toe deformities (hammer toe, claw toe, mallet toe)
Common deformities affecting the small toe joints result in contractures and painful hard skin (corns). This condition can be caused by tight footwear or inflammatory arthritis. Following failed conservative treatment, surgical correction is advised to achieve a more comfortable fit in a normal shoe.
Foot surgery for arthritis
While there isn’t a specific surgery dedicated to relieving arthritis in the foot, the condition can be improved through other available procedures. For example, steroid injections can be used to help alleviate symptoms. Failing that however, surgery (such as fusion, osteotomy or replacement) is recommended.
Foot operations explained
While foot surgery isn’t generally considered a major operation, our feet are extremely important to us in terms of mobility. When we can’t get around as much, our quality of life suffers. With that in mind, it’s only natural that you’d want to know as much as possible about your upcoming foot surgery.
How is foot surgery done?
The answer to this depends on the type of surgery you need and the condition you’re aiming to treat. Ankle replacement surgery involves the removal of the damaged joint which is replaced by an artificial one. Conversely, foot fusion surgery sees the screwing together of the healthy, remaining bones once the damaged ones have been removed.
Ask your doctor for more information on how your specific procedure will go.
When is foot surgery needed?
In the foot, there are multiple conditions that can present as pain. Most can be treated through conservative means, but failing this, there are surgical options.
The common conditions that require surgery are:
bunions (this can include hammer toes)
osteo or rheumatoid arthritis
Your doctor will be able to accurately diagnose problems that persist in your foot or ankle.
How long does foot surgery take?
This depends entirely on the type of surgery you need. Bunion surgery takes about an hour, while ankle replacement surgery can last longer than 90 minutes.
Ankle operations explained
Our ankles take the stresses and strains of our daily movements that involve twisting and turning. If you play football or do ballet dancing, you’ll recognise the importance that your ankles have in getting around the pitch or stage. Whether you’re researching for a future operation or you’re simply curious, we explore the ins and outs of ankle surgery.
How is ankle surgery done?
As with foot surgery, this depends on the type of surgery you need and the condition of your ankle. Ankle replacement surgery involves the removal of the damaged joint which is replaced by an artificial one. Conversely, foot fusion surgery sees the screwing together of the healthy, remaining bones once the damaged ones have been removed.
Ask your doctor for more information on how your specific procedure will go.
When is ankle surgery necessary?
Ankle surgery is needed when all conservative measures are no longer effective. You may require ankle surgery to treat:
broken ankle bones
fore-foot deformities (such as bunions and claw toes).
Your doctor will be able to accurately diagnose problems that persist in your foot or ankle.
How long does ankle surgery take?
Ankle surgery can take between 30 minutes and two hours depending on the type of surgery you need. Ask your doctor for more information about your specific surgery.
Preparing for foot or ankle surgery
There may be specific things you can do to prepare for the foot or ankle surgery you need, but below is some general guidance to help you prepare.
As your mobility will likely be restricted following surgery, it’s a good idea to stock up on food and any medicine you might need during your recovery.
Keeping important items such as your phone within reach will reduce the need for unnecessary movement. This will also lower the risk of falling over and damaging your affected foot or ankle.
You won’t be able to drive in the weeks following your operation, so it’s a good idea to enlist the help of a friend or family member. Asking them to run errands for you, look after you or simply keep you company during your recovery will be a great help.
At Practice Plus Group, you’ll first need to book an appointment. During this initial consultation, a specialist will examine your foot or ankle and recommend the best course of action. You’ll be given a time and date for your surgery which will likely be a few weeks after your consultation. Before your surgery you’ll meet your team or orthopaedic surgeons and nurses and begin your treatment.
Possible risks and complications
The risks of foot and ankle surgery are the same as other operations:
failure of joint fixation.
While the likelihood of these is low, there is still a risk they could occur. Talk to your doctor for more information.
Foot and ankle surgery costs
The cost of your private foot or ankle surgery will depend on what exactly needs to be done. A total ankle replacement, for example, will be more expensive than foot fusion surgery, which, in turn, will be more expensive than toenail removal.
Foot and ankle surgery is also available on the NHS where treatment is free. If you choose to have your treatment with the NHS, you will likely face lengthy waiting times. The NHS Waiting List tracker provides an idea of current waiting times faced by patients per English region and treatment type.
Private ankle surgery costs in the UK
This depends on the type of surgery you need. Prices for private ankle surgery in the UK generally range between £3,000 to more than £10,000.
Private foot surgery costs in the UK
This depends on the type of surgery you need. Prices for private foot surgery in the UK generally range between £4,000 to more than £10,000.
What to expect after foot surgery
Following your surgery, you’ll likely want to get up and around as soon as possible. However, you will need to observe a period of rest and rehabilitation to ensure a full recovery.
Foot surgery recovery time
Recovery time varies from patient-to-patient and depends on the type of surgery carried out. It’s possible you’ll be up and about again after two months, but you may also still need to wear plaster far beyond that. For some patients, it may be a year before they have fully recovered.
Exercise after foot surgery
The effectiveness and type of exercise to do after surgery depends on the foot procedure you’ve had. As a general rule, yoga, swimming and cycling can be effective forms of exercise as they are non-impact with little weight-bearing.
Ask your doctor or physiotherapist for more information about specific exercises to successfully recover from your foot surgery.
What to expect after ankle surgery
Following your surgery, we understand that you’ll likely want to get up and around as soon as possible. Steady on though; you will need to observe a period of rest and rehabilitation to help ensure a swift and full recovery.
Ankle surgery recovery tips
Probably the most important tip is to follow the advice and guidance of your doctor. He or she will be able to direct you in terms of the amount of rest you will need and the specific types of exercise you should do.
Find ankle and foot surgery near you
At Practice Plus Group, we’re passionate about providing you with a positive experience during your foot and ankle surgery. We strive to ensure the treatment you receive is personalised to your needs every step of the way. Whether you’re paying for yourself or using private medical insurance, with our short waiting times, unrivalled Care Quality Commission (CQC) ratings and specialist foot and ankle surgeons, we’ll make sure you’re looked after.
Take a look at our Private and NHS care options for information and advice on booking appointments to choosing the right hospital for your treatment.
Ways to pay
There are 3 ways to access foot and ankle surgery at Practice Plus Group:
At Practice Plus Group Hospitals we’re passionate about giving patients a positive experience and excellent clinical outcomes, with personalised care every step of the way. Whether you’re paying for yourself or using private medical insurance, with our short waiting times, unrivalled Care Quality Commission (CQC) ratings and high levels of cleanliness and infection control, we’ll make sure you’re looked after. In fact, we were the first provider to have all services rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by the CQC.
Foot and ankle surgery FAQs
Not quite found what you’re looking for? Our dedicated foot and ankle FAQs can help!
Ankle replacement or fusion is classed as major surgery. However, other foot procedures aren’t generally considered major operations, but the recovery period is crucial. Our feet are extremely important to us in terms of mobility, so it’s important to give yourself enough time to recover before getting up and around again.
Just as with any surgical procedure, foot surgery carries risks of infection, nerve damage and bleeding. These aren’t considered high risks and you’re much less likely to suffer from complications if you’re generally fit and healthy.
It’s worth at least considering foot surgery if medication and other treatments are no longer effective in combating your foot pain. Your doctor will be able to decide whether you’d benefit from foot surgery and which type would be the most suitable for you.
Soft, wide shoes are the best type of footwear following your surgery. Your doctor will be able to recommend and direct you to the most suitable retailer.
This varies from patient-to-patient but it isn’t uncommon to experience discomfort in the affected foot up to six months after surgery.
Your doctor will be able to recommend the appropriate pain relief if necessary.
It’s possible you’ll be up and about again after two months, but you may also still need to wear plaster far beyond that. For some patients, it may be a year before they have fully recovered.
Ankle replacement or fusion are classed as major surgeries. They carry similar risks to hip and knee surgeries which range from infection to nerve damage. You’re much less likely to suffer from complications if you’re generally fit and healthy. Some surgical ankle procedures are more serious than others. Talk to your doctor if you have any reservations.
The surgery itself is not painful as you’ll be under general anaesthetic. You will likely experience pain and discomfort in the hours after the operation as the painkillers wear off. Your doctor should be able to provide the necessary pain relief to manage any ongoing discomfort.
This depends entirely on your symptoms, age, the condition of your ankle and the recommendation of your doctor. It’s also worth at least considering ankle surgery if medication and other treatments are no longer effective in combating your pain.
Went here as a nervous patient. From the moment I arrived I was made to feel welcome and looked after extremely well. Practice Plus Group staff are just amazing and caring.
by M K
Portsmouth – Caring staff
I very much appreciate the passion and attentiveness of you and your caring staff at [Practice Plus Group Surgical Centre, St Mary’s Portsmouth].
Portsmouth – brilliant service
I visited [Practice Plus Group Surgical Centre, St Mary’s Portsmouth] walk-in centre today and although there were quite a few people already there I was in and out in 15 minutes. They were very efficient and helpful.
Best hospital I have ever been in
This is the best hospital I have ever been in. The care and efficiency were excellent. My operation was conducted by a top class surgeon and anaesthetist who made me feel relaxed and secure. The team in the Kingfisher ward were kind and professional with good bedside manners and sense of humour. There were no delays in the treatment. My stay was made as comfortable as possible and I thank everyone involved. I am now recovering well.
by Iain Robertson, Google
I can not speak more highly of the staff here. Everybody I dealt with and saw with others were incredible, be it the surgeon or bed chaperones.
by Chris Turner, Google
Emersons Green – incredibly slick and super friendly
Despite the most huge system demand, strikes and winter pressures the NHS still carries on, so grateful to Practice Plus Group for looking after me yesterday. You were incredibly slick, super friendly and got the job done!
by Joanna Masters, Twitter
Barlborough – nothing was too much trouble
The staff were so friendly & put me at ease. Lovely clean hospital.
Emersons Green – truly wonderful
I had an op today in Emerson Green and wanted to say how well I was looked after and cared for. Truly wonderful. Thank you
by Laura Steer - Emersons Green Hospital, Twitter
Portsmouth – Thanks for repairing me
Many thanks for repairing me, Mr Sadek, [Practice Plus Group Surgical Centre, St Mary’s Portsmouth] and making me whole again. After only a week I’m almost normal and fit again. Kind regards.