In a perfect world, surgery of any kind (including rearfoot surgery) would never be necessary. And in fact, even in this world, our preference is to treat conditions non-surgically whenever we possibly can.
But sometimes, surgery really is the best choice for your feet—or maybe even your only choice. And when that happens, it’s important to have a highly trained and credentialed specialist like Dr. Patel or Dr. Thapar to provide the highest standard of care.
What Is the Rearfoot?
Also known as the hindfoot, the term rearfoot usually refers to the back part of the foot surrounding two large, irregularly shaped bones—the calcaneus (heel bone) and talus (ankle bone).
This is the first part of the foot to contact the ground when you walk or run, and bears the full weight and impact force of each step. As a result, heel and rearfoot pain is very common, especially among those who are physically active.
Rearfoot Injuries that May Require Surgery
Although these conditions may not always (or even usually) require surgery, it may be an option if your case is severe or not responding to other treatments. These conditions include:
- Plantar fasciitis—inflammation or tearing of the plantar fascia, a tough, fibrous band of tissue that stretches across the entire bottom of your foot.
- Heel spurs—bony deposits of calcium may build up on underside of the heel bone in response to chronic plantar fasciitis, and can sometimes reach half an inch in length.
- Achilles spur—a spur that forms at the point where the Achilles tendon inserts into the calcaneus.
- Haglund’s deformity—a bony enlargement that forms on the back of the heel. It’s also called “pump bump,” since it is associated with those who wear hard-backed shoes such as pumps.
- Arthritis—joint pain can develop in the ankles, or in the areas between the calcaneus, talus, and bones of the midfoot.
- Trauma—significant accidents, including fractures and other trauma, may occur to the area and require surgery to fix.
- Nerve entrapment—nerves may become pinched, especially in “tunnels” such as the tarsal tunnel, due to inflammation, injury, cysts, trauma, or other factors.
Every condition is unique. The optimal surgical approach in any given scenario may depend on the severity and location of the condition or injury, as well as your overall health and personal lifestyle goals.
Some of the techniques employed may include:
- Tendon surgery—a ruptured or weakened tendon may need to be surgically repaired, possibly using tendon grafts from other areas of the body if necessary.
- Plantar fascia release—a severely chronic case of plantar fasciitis may require cutting part of the fascia in order to release the tension.
- Osteotomy—broken, enlarged, or deformed bones may need to be cut, repositioned, and re-set in order to restore normal shape and function. This may or may not require the use of hardware to hold the bones in place during the healing process.
- Excision—A small fragment of bone, such as a spur, may be removed.
- Fusion/arthrodesis—bones and joints may be fused together in order to stop abnormal motion or relieve arthritis pain.
- Nerve decompression—structures may be cut in order to relieve pressure or pinching on a nerve.
In some cases, the goal of surgery may be simply to relieve your symptoms. In other cases, we may be fully reconstructing the rearfoot in order to restore function.
Trust Our Experience
Rearfoot and ankle surgery is an advanced specialty even within the category of foot surgery, as it can be complex and require mastery of a wide variety of surgical techniques. It’s important to find an experienced surgeon who can handle your procedure with skill.
Our own Dr. Pragnesh Patel sought extra credentials in reconstructive rearfoot and ankle surgery during his residency at the Level 1 Trauma Center of Stony Brook University and Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Northpoint, NY. And Dr. Jyotsna Thapar is one of only a few hundred doctors in the country trained in advanced A. Lee Dellon peripheral nerve surgery techniques.
Regardless of what is causing your rearfoot pain or deformity, our team is ready to provide the latest techniques and highest standards of care.
You can request an appointment with us online, or call one of our offices directly:
- Hillsborough: (908) 722-3668
- Edison: (908) 222-8980
- Warren: (732) 356-3668
- East Brunswick: (732) 254-9302