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The response to the question below was authored by Marc Mitnick DPM
(Burlington, Iowa, USA)
Loose screw/Too much bone removed/Sitting too high
July 9, 2010 I had a bunion and tailors bunion corrected surgically on my right foot. I was no weight bearing for two and a half months, then partial with crutches (walking full boot)for about a month, then walking with boot no crutches.
June of 2012 I saw a completely different podiatrist (I have moved out of state) who evaluated my foot and took x-rays. This doctor told me that one screw is sitting about .25"-.50" out of the bone at any given time depending on movement and footwear. I'm assuming it's worse now as the pain has been getting worse. Also, that the surgeon cut too much bone from the first metatarsal off and set the placement too high. This is causing me to overcompensate and roll my foot forward (I've tried custom prescription shoe inserts and they have not helped).
This doctor told me that it's possible to go in and readjust things, but it's not guaranteed and would require shortening the first metatarsal even more which would defeat the purpose. He basically said I'm out of luck and will have this problem for the rest of my life.
I am constantly in a lot of pain and I am left with limited mobility. It's reached a point where I can no longer wear shoes without debilitating pain (even with trying to adjust my foot around in the shoe). So much so that it has prevented me from being able to hold a job that requires me to be on my feet and I am currently in the process of applying for disability.
I'm wondering, is this second doctor correct? Should I attempt to have the surgery to try and fix the bone placement, despite additional shortening of the bone? I am including a few photos of my x-rays taken June of 2012. I am only 22 years old. This has already had a horrible impact on my life, I'm afraid the worst is yet to come.
Let me start off by saying there is no easy way out for you. I agree with your second doctor in that the osteotomy with the screws was performed to far forward on the first metatarsal. The problem with that is that the bone in that area of the metatarsal in not conducive to healing from surgical breaking and also may or may not explain why the screw is loose.
All things being equal, if the osteotomy (surgical breaking of bone) had healed, then the screw could simply be removed. It is not clear by your narrative if that is where you are having pain, but if so, then the screw could be removed. The problem, because of where the osteotomy was performed, may still not be completely healed. It has been three years since the surgery and certainly time wise, you should have been healed.
Your second problem is that the first metatarsal bone is too short compared to the rest of the metatarsal bones. A shortened first metatarsal bone can be an issue when it comes to walking.
I do not know what kind of orthotic you have, but there are orthotics that will help stabilize that problem although it sounds like your pair has not helped.
I would recommend an MRI to see if the osteotomy where the screw lies has healed or not, because if it has not, it needs to be dealt with, especially if you are having pain in that portion of the bone.
If the bone has healed and it is just the screw that it bothering you, then as I said earlier, the screw could be removed.
Other than that, I do not know what kind of surgery the second podiatrist is recommending. At all costs, you want to avoid surgery that will further shorten the first metatarsal bone.
If the final outcome is that the osteotomy has never closed and that is why you are having pain then the only procedure you might want to consider would be a bone graft in that site, in an effort to lengthen the bone and allow it to align better with the other metatarsals.
That would be a decision that would have to be well thought out and I would suggest you have more than one opinion (mine does not count, because I cannot actually examine you).
You are only 22 and I do not want to see fall into a situation that I have seen numerous times over the years; people having multiple surgical revisions in hopes of improving their foot problem, only to find out the foot worsens with each subsequent surgery.
Marc Mitnick DPM
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