The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Arthroscopic Surgery for Foot and Ankle Injuries: What Is It and Why You Shouldn’t Be Scared

Posted by on Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

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I’ve listened to many an older relative gripe about how much better things used to be than they are now: movies were better, cars were better, people were nicer. My mom would probably tell you that there has not been a decent piece of toast made anywhere in the world in decades.

It’s a common part of getting old–everything seems like it was better when you were younger. However, I think there’s one thing that even the grumpiest old man would agree is much better now than it used to be, and that’s medical care, especially surgery.

Thanks to advances in technology, the “being cut open” part of surgery that so many people dread has been replaced in many instances by arthroscopic surgery, which requires little cutting. This is something we should be especially grateful for when it comes to foot surgery, one of the most sensitive areas of our bodies.

I’m sure you’ve heard the term arthroscopic surgery before, especially if you’re a sports fan (“I just lost the kicker on my fantasy team because he needed arthroscopic surgery on his ankle after thinking he was a real athlete and tried to make a tackle!”). However, you may not know exactly what it is and why it’s different than traditional surgery, so let’s clear that up.

In traditional surgery, a surgeon has to make a large cut to open the injured area just to get a look and see what’s wrong, what needs to be repaired, and how to do it. The larger the cut, the more nerves, veins, and tissues are exposed. The danger of infection gets bigger with the size of the cut, more stitches are required, and more of everything needs to heal.

With arthroscopic surgery, a tiny camera is inserted into a small incision in the injured area. A detailed image from the area appears on a screen, allowing the surgeon to evaluate the injury and decide how to approach it. At this point, the surgeon can make another incision and use that to insert small instruments to make certain kinds of repairs, with the images on the screen as a guide. Being able to make the minimum sized cuts means there is less to heal and less risk of infection.The scar is also smaller, if you’re not trying to impress people with the size of your scars.

Arthroscopic surgery can be used on your feet and ankles to:

  • remove loose bits of bone or cartilage that are floating around and causing pain or inhibiting mobility;
  • repair torn cartilage or ligaments;
  • take out inflamed lining in joints that is causing pain.

If you’re bothered by ankle or foot pain, don’t put off seeing a podiatrist because you’re worried that you’ll be told you need surgery and you’re scared of the cutting. The podiatric surgeons at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) have years of experience with arthroscopic surgery and can determine if you’re a candidate for this type of procedure. Your feet will be in good hands.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.