What is surgical realignment of the foot or ankle?

Surgical realignment is a medical procedure where the doctor puts the bones of a joint back into position. That way, the joint can function normally. Doctors can do this surgery on any joint. It's common for ankles because they often break or become dislocated. Your feet also have many bones that can dislocate. When a dislocation happens, a joint comes out of place. This can be painful because the bones at the joint don't meet the way they should.

When is surgical realignment for the foot or ankle done?

Doctors can do surgical realignment right after you injure yourself. They can also do it later if the injury heals wrong or causes problems. Your doctor may be able to repair your ankle to its normal alignment and ensure its stability without surgery. If your ankle is too unstable, surgical realignment is necessary. This helps it function normally and prevents future problems.

What to expect from surgical realignment of the foot or ankle

Surgical realignment is often an open surgery. Your doctor may also do it with small tools that they insert through tiny incisions. Once the anesthesia has put you to sleep, your doctor makes an incision on your ankle skin.

Then, they cut and trim bones to align them in the joint. They also remove any bone fragments and damaged cartilage. Your doctor may repair torn tendons and ligaments. The doctor uses metal plates and/or screws to fuse bones together and stabilize the joint. These remain in your ankle joint. If they cause pain or discomfort later on, you might need a second surgery to remove them.

You need a splint or cast to hold your foot and ankle still while you're healing. You should avoid putting weight on your ankle until your doctor determines that it's healed enough. During this time, you might have crutches to help you get around.

The recovery time greatly depends on your injury and the surgery. Physical therapy can help you regain strength and range of motion in your ankle.

Common conditions requiring surgical realignment

Ankle fractures and dislocations are the most common conditions that need surgical realignment. If they don't heal properly, the bones in the ankle can go out of alignment. This causes pain and limits movement. These injuries can happen due to accidents, traumas and sport activities.

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