We provide specialist care and expertise for a wide range of conditions that can affect the health of your feet. Our orthopaedic surgeons specialise in treating a wide range of foot conditions.

Foot Orthopaedics

Orthopaedics Infoline

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I have a foot condition, what are my next steps?

The foot is made up of many bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons that handle the force of your bodyweight every day. As a result, the foot is susceptible to many stresses and strains as all the different parts work together to keep you in motion. Foot problems can arise from neglect, ill-fitting shoes, wear and tear or sudden injury or disease. It can cause painful symptoms and discomfort that resulting in limited mobility. 

Foot conditions can affect any part of the foot or ankle as the structure is so complex and interwoven. Foot and ankle orthopaedic specialists are highly trained in treating specific conditions that affect the whole of this area such as heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, bunions and arthritis. Injury or trauma through sport are common causes of foot problems, but many conditions are also exacerbated over time through poor footwear, medical conditions or a genetic predisposition.

Pain is a common symptom of most foot conditions and can vary from acute and severe, to a dull persistent ache. It is often accompanied by tenderness, numbness, tingling or visual deformity. If the foot is visibly wounded or misshapen, or your pain persists or worsens, you should seek medical help immediately. Left untreated, some foot conditions can cause complications including ongoing weakness and instability.

At St Vincent’s Private Hospitals, our specialist foot and ankle orthopaedic staff are amongst Australia’s leading and respected practitioners. We are committed to supporting patients at every step of their healthcare journey through surgical excellence, outstanding facilities and patient-centred care.

orthopaedics knee model
  • Step 1


    See your GP about getting a referral for your specialist appointment at your nearest St Vincent’s Private Hospital.

  • Step 2


    Talk to our world-leading specialists about the most suitable treatment options available to support your needs.

  • Step 3


    Experience the streamlined care available from our team of experts as we help support you through your hospital admission, procedure and rehabilitation.

  • Step 4


    Our rehabilitation team will guide you each step of the way as you regain your strength and independence.

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Frequently Asked Questions

With many bones, ligaments and tendons handling your entire bodyweight every day, foot complaints are certainly not unusual. Fortunately, there are many foot conditions that can be resolved with surgery. Bunion surgery is one of the most common procedures, along with plantar fasciitis surgery (plantar fasciotomy), hammer toe surgery, Morton’s neuroma surgery (neurectomy), and foot fracture repair.
The foot is made up of 26 bones as well as muscles, tendons and ligaments. It is one of the most complex joints in the body and as such is vulnerable to common foot conditions. These are often caused by poorly fitting shoes, but can also arise from neglect, overuse, wear and tear or sudden injury or disease. All of these can cause painful symptoms that limit mobility and impact daily activities.
The cost of surgery is dependent on a number of factors that will vary by patient. These include Medicare rebates, your level of private health insurance (if you have it) and the cost of your surgical team, which can differ between surgeons and hospitals.
A bunion (hallux valgus) is a bony bump that develops or worsens as a result of bone misalignment, narrow or high footwear, your foot shape or from medical conditions such as arthritis. Bunions can range in severity and are classified by size and location. They usually form at the base of the big toe joint or on the outside of the little toe – this is known as a Tailor’s bunion or bunionette. The big toe often starts to move in towards the smaller toes. The symptoms can be extremely painful and bunion treatment options include pain relief, comfortable shoes, or in extreme cases, surgery.
Bunion surgery, sometimes called a bunionectomy, is a very common procedure that is used to treat bunions that haven’t responded to more conservative methods such as pain relief and rest.  The operation aims to realign the joint at the base of the big toe, correct any deformity and help relieve painful symptoms. The type of bunion surgery required will depend on the severity of the bunion and how it is impacting the rest of the foot structure. In milder cases, only the bunion itself need be removed, and this can be done through minimally invasive surgery. In more severe cases, the bone may need to be cut, repositioned, and fused together using pins and screws. Your doctor will discuss with you the most appropriate option for your needs.
If your bunion is not causing you any pain or discomfort, there is no need to consider surgery. However, if your bunion is causing significant pain that limits your daily activities it may be useful to seek specialist advice. Common symptoms include:
  • Inflammation and swelling of the big toe that doesn’t respond to medication, rest or change of footwear
  • Obvious bump on the outside of your big toe
  • Toe stiffness or limited movement
  • Visual deformity with toes crossing over each other
  • Rubbing against other toes
  • Loss of balance
Any surgical procedure carries an element of complication. Your surgeon and orthopaedic care team will conduct a full assessment to determine your individual level of risk, and any appropriate action that may be required will be discussed with you at your consultation.
Bunion surgery is only recommended if the pain is significantly affecting your quality of life. Once you have decided to have surgery, your doctor may first request that you have weight-bearing foot X-rays to ascertain the severity of the bunions and plan for surgery. Most bunion procedures are completed as day surgery, and your surgeon may use a few different techniques such as bone shaving, bone realignment or joint fusion. You will usually return home the same day with an individualised rehabilitation program. It’s a good idea to organise some help at home for the first couple of weeks after surgery.
The recovery time looks different for each patient and will depend on your general health coming into the procedure and the extent of the bunion surgery. In milder cases, you may be able to walk on your foot straight after surgery using a special boot. In more severe cases, there will be a period of non-weightbearing to allow time for healing. It can take 6-12 weeks for the bone to heal, but a full recovery could take up to one year. You are likely to be discharged from hospital the same day, with specific instructions on how to care for your foot after the operation including a range of exercises to restore strength and function.

Still have questions? Let us help you.