Don't Rush Into Foot Surgery

If you have an annoying foot problem, the temptation might be to quickly choose the surgery option - especially if you're in a great deal of pain. But surgery is hardly the best course of action for everyone, according to Loan Lam, a Yale-trained podiatric surgeon in Marco, Fla. "Every person, every patient is different," Lam says. "Not everyone needs surgery. You have to take the person as a whole," including the patient's social history, financial condition, personality and medical history.

"CAn 18-year-old athlete is really different from a 60-year-old osteoporotic woman, even though they are presenting with the same condition," she explains. "It's a lot harder to go back and think about how to manage a recovery than it is to assess things beforehand. If a patient is non-compliant, has a lifestyle that won't accommodate surgery or can't afford to go to rehab each week, that all plays into each decision. Patients have to have the proper support system if they're going to have surgery."

 But the best course of all, declares Lam, is to avoid the problems that invite surgery in the first place, by choosing correct footwear, which can prevent the problems that require going under the knife. Wearing flip-flops, for example, is a great way to flatten the feet and attract puncture wounds and other foot injuries. "People tend to be stubborn about the style and size of shoe they wear," she says.

 "Good shoes don't have to cost a lot of money; just because a shoe is highly recommended, doesn't mean it's good for you. Both your foot type and your lifestyle determine what kind of shoe you need. A half-marathoner needs a different shoe than, say, a weekend tennis player. A size six in New Balance won't fit the same as one by Nike."


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