Circle Reading Hospital's foot and ankle surgery unit provides the very best clinical care for our patients by combining the expertise and experience of leading orthopaedic consultants with the availability of the latest diagnostic technology.
Our foot and ankle orthopaedic consultants are able to request a range of diagnostic techniques to complement their expert clinical assessment, to ensure the right choices are made at every stage of your treatment and recovery process. Our diagnostic imaging department is supported by our radiology consultants who provide additional expertise where more specialist diagnostics are needed or when more detailed radiology reporting is required.
A holistic approach for a rapid recovery
Our holistic approach to foot and ankle surgery means that our patients are fully supported both pre- and post-operation by our musculoskeletal physiotherapy department. The close working relationship between our surgeons and physiotherapists, as well as the detailed protocols our orthopaedic department have developed for foot and ankle operations, ensures that a rapid return to activities of daily living and sports can be achieved.
The foot and ankle comprise thirty-three individual joints and over one-hundred muscles and tendons. As a result, there are a huge number of conditions which may be treated within a foot and ankle surgery unit.
In broad terms, this area can be split in to the hindfoot, the midfoot and the forefoot. Foot and ankle surgical treatment will be dependent on the anatomical area affected and the exact nature of each condition.
Due to a combination of genetic factors, including the shape of the foot, previous trauma and which repetitive tasks the foot and ankle have been exposed to, some of the joints can develop painful, degenerative changes (osteoarthritis). In severe cases, this may be treated with a joint replacement or fusions which can be offered for ankle joint of big toe joint osteoarthritis. Due to the limited amount of normal movement available, midfoot joint fusions can be offered if these joints are affected.
To provide stability and adequate propulsion during walking, running and other sports-related activities, the foot and ankle rely on a number of muscles and tendons. Due to the load placed upon these structures, a number of surgical treatments have been developed to remove damaged and painful tendon tissue or to repair or reconstruct torn or ruptured tendon tissue.
A significant ankle sprain (or multiple ankle sprains) can result in significant damage to the ligaments of the ankle. In some cases this can result in ankle instability, when the ankle feels progressively weak and continues to suffer injuries. In these cases, an ankle ligament repair may be considered to provide stability.
An in-depth history will be taken by one of our experienced foot and ankle consultants. This will enable them to formulate a list of possible diagnoses to be tested during a physical examination. The mechanism behind any trauma suffered, any contributory repetitive tasks that may cause your pain as well as any previous injuries will be noted.
Some knee conditions may have associated symptoms such as swelling, weakness, giving way or instability. These symptoms can often be helpful in formulating a possible diagnosis.
A thorough physical examination will be conducted of the lower limbs. Specialist assessment techniques may include:
- Assessing the foot shape (i.e. flat or high-arched foot type)
- Assessing the alignment of the lower limb
- Joint range of motion tests, including the ankle/foot as well as the hips
- Muscle length tests
- Palpation (feeling the tissues under the skin to assess for pain)
- Resistance tests, to check the integrity of the muscles and tendons around the foot and ankle
State-of-the-art diagnostics available for you
Several forms of imaging exist to confirm diagnoses around the foot and ankle. Depending on the exact presentation, our consultants may request more than one imaging modality before offering treatment. Diagnostic tests may include:
- X-rays: can be useful to assess the degree of any degenerative changes to the joints. X-rays taken at specialist angles may also be requested in cases of significant structural deformity of the foot. As X-rays can be taken in a weight-bearing position, they can help determine which forms of surgical correction may be useful.
- MRI scan:may be considered for inspecting the soft tissue around the foot and ankle, including the ligaments, tendons and their respective tendon sheaths. An MRI scan may also be requested to investigate the bony cartilage (joint surfaces) in more detail than a plain X-ray would provide.
- Ultrasound scans: can provide a detailed and dynamic view of tendons such as the Achilles tendon and tibialis posterior tendon. Your consultant may request this imaging to assess areas of pain, inflammation or suspected tears to these tissues.
The right treatment for you, always
You will always be given the space and time to talk about how your symptoms have affected you. In addition, your individual goals, whether sporting or non-sporting, will also be thoroughly discussed in order to determine the best possible management plan for you.
As well as offering the best possible surgical outcomes, our foot and ankle unit is able to offer image- guided injections in cases of osteoarthritis or in cases of tendon sheath inflammation.
Research indicates that when the right treatment is delivered by experienced orthopaedic surgeons, with other services including radiology and physiotherapy supporting this treatment in a specialist environment, outcomes for patients improve. Our foot and ankle service includes:
- Expert assessment from an experienced consultant
- Diagnostic imaging with no waits
- Latest imaging techniques
- Leading surgical techniques available
- Leading musculoskeletal physiotherapists and rehabilitation equipment
- Communicative working environment to ensure all of our specialists work towards your goals
Expert support and guidance throughout your rehabilitation
Following any foot and ankle surgical procedure, our specialist orthopaedic physiotherapists will run through the relevant post-operative rehabilitation guidelines with our patients.
With many foot and ankle operations, there may be a period of time with limited weight-bearing in which wearing a walking boot or an orthopaedic shoe may also be necessary. This can be an uncomfortable experience, but at Circle we use a range of orthopaedic products to minimize these problems and also offer regular follow-up appointments with our orthopaedic team to ensure progression is made at a suitable rate.
Active rehabilitation also plays a major role following the majority of foot and ankle surgical procedures. To get the very best outcomes for our patients, Circle ensures a close working relationship between our foot and ankle orthopaedic consultants and our musculoskeletal physiotherapists.
All our clinicians follow our comprehensive post-surgical protocols in order to optimise the use of a range of technologically-innovative rehabilitation equipment we have invested in. Our rehabilitation equipment includes continuous passive motion machines, anti-gravity treadmills, gait analysis technology and the latest range of cardiovascular and resistance gym machines available.
All these Circle Health clinical values ensure our patients are able to return to their goals of activities of daily living and sports faster and stronger.
To arrange your consultation with an experienced foot and ankle surgeon, contact our friendly team today who will be delighted to help.