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Foot and ankle is a specialty of orthopedics

With ever increasing activities of men, more and more problems in our musculoskeletal system (bones and muscles) are being recognized by modern science. Issues pertaining to our foot and ankle like sprains, fractures, arthritis, deformities, sports injuries and diabetic neuropathies which have historically been neglected because of lack of proper understanding, are finally getting solved after a lot of research and surgical experimentation.

The anatomy and biomechanics of our foot and ankle are so darn complex because of the sheer number of bones, joints, muscles and ligaments, all working closely in a 3-dimensional space, that a specialty of orthopedics is fully dedicated to this field. Understanding which part of this region is giving pain and discomfort to the patient is the most interesting aspect where the doctor has to think like Sherlock Holmes! And it is not a cup of tea for everyone.

To be able to reach that position where we can give a diagnosis with certainty and properly treat the patient, we have to first go through 5 years of medical college; then do a 3-year post graduation in “Orthopedic Surgery” followed by 1-2 years of fellowship in “Foot and Ankle”! Needless to say, that only an orthopedic surgeon who has an in-depth knowledge about this region can come up with a viable solution to patient’s problem. Podiatrists, orthotists, prosthetists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists come into picture only after proper assessment by the foot and ankle orthopedic surgeon, not before that!

The management of foot deformities like flatfeet and high arched feet requires not just the correction of the bony alignment but also the balancing of dynamic muscles pulling the foot in multiple directions. Similarly, the treatment of diabetic ulcers and Charcot (where bones just break on their own because the nerves are dying!) is not repeated cleaning of wounds and antibiotics. It is the correction of bones and their position which can only be assessed by an orthopedic surgeon specializing in this field. Who else can do key hole surgeries for sports injuries of foot and ankle other than an orthopedic surgeon trained in arthroscopic surgery? Total ankle replacement for end stage ankle arthritis (joint becoming painful because of old age) demands for proper assessment of mechanical and anatomic bony landmarks along with thorough knowledge of implant designs which can only be done by an orthopedic surgeon trained in arthroplasty.

The dictum followed by podiatrists (who are totally different from foot and ankle orthopedic surgeons!) that “a foot should look like a foot” is not entirely true. There is a lot going on in those powerful areas of our body which has bewildered the scientists for so long. So, if you have any problem in your feet or ankles that is not allowing you to enjoy your life fully, look no further, because foot and ankle orthopedic surgeons are the most competent people to solve your issues.


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