What foot and ankle conditions in children require surgery?

Written by: Mr Alpesh Kothari
Published: | Updated: 26/04/2024
Edited by: Conor Lynch

Foot and ankle surgery in children is a specialised field of paediatric orthopaedics that addresses a variety of conditions affecting the lower extremities. While many paediatric foot and ankle conditions can be managed non-surgically, there are certain instances where surgical intervention may be necessary to correct deformities, improve function, and alleviate pain.


Read our latest article here to find out when surgery is required for foot and ankle injuries and conditions in children, as revered consultant consultant paediatric orthopaedic surgeon, Mr Alpesh Kothari, tells us all. 

What foot and ankle conditions in children require surgery?

One common condition that may require foot and ankle surgery in children is club foot. Club foot is a congenital deformity characterised by an inward and downward rotation of the foot and ankle, resulting in a rigid, twisted appearance. While non-surgical treatments such as serial casting and bracing are often effective in correcting clubfoot, some cases may require surgical correction to release tight ligaments and reposition the foot into a more normal alignment.


Another condition that typically requires foot and ankle surgery in children is flatfoot, a common condition that occurs when the arch of the foot collapses, causing the entire sole of the foot to come into contact with the ground. Traditional surgical approaches involve cutting bones and realigning joints, but novel, minimally invasive techniques such as subtalar arthroereisis can also be effective in improving symptoms and function.


In addition to club foot and flatfoot, other conditions that may require foot and ankle surgery in children include:


  • Tarsal coalition: A condition where two or more bones in the foot are abnormally fused together, causing stiffness, pain, and limited range of motion.
  • Toe deformities: Conditions such as hammer toe, claw toe, and curly toe may require surgical correction to realign the toes and improve function.
  • Growth plate injuries: Fractures or injuries to the growth plates in the foot and ankle may require surgical stabilization to prevent long-term complications and promote proper growth and development.
  • Toe-walking: This is an extremely common presentation, and in some cases can cause significant pain and functional problems. Non-operative measures, like casting can help some patients, but when there is significant tightness in the Achilles tendon, surgery to lengthen the tendon and improve ankle range of motion can be highly effective.


It is important to note that foot and ankle surgery in children is typically approached with caution and careful consideration of the child's age, growth potential, and overall health.


To schedule an appointment with Mr Alpesh Kothari today, just visit his Top Doctors profile. 

By Mr Alpesh Kothari
Paediatric orthopaedics

Mr Alpesh Kothari is a highly revered and distinguished consultant paediatric orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in paediatric orthopaedics, neuromuscular disease, foot fracture, foot and ankle conditions and injuries, and abnormal gait. He currently practises at the Nuffield Health The Manor Oxford Hospital.

Mr Kothari's main subspecialty interests are knee problems including kneecap instability, developmental hip dysplasia, as well as various other hip disorders and neuromuscular conditions such as cerebral palsy and spina bifida. Notably, Mr Kothari's undergraduate training was based at Cambridge University and his clinical studies at the University of Oxford.

He successfully completed his postgraduate orthopaedic training in Oxford, and possesses a master's degree in orthopaedic engineering and a PhD in musculoskeletal sciences; researching flat feet in children. Mr Kothari is actively involved in clinical research, supervision of postgraduate degrees and training orthopaedic residents. Not only that, but he is so too an associate fellow of the Higher Education Academy and is regularly invited to teach at national and international events.

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