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Foot amputation


How often do you think about your feet – and just how important they are in your everyday life? It is only when we are faced with the idea of losing a foot that it becomes obvious how much we rely on them. And it is why foot amputation can have such dramatic and life-changing outcomes.

Even so, full or partial foot amputation does not mean you must stop doing the things you enjoy. The amputation claims specialists at Shoosmiths are here to make sure you get the support and guidance you need to live a full and happy life – no matter if you have lost all or part of a foot.

Read on to find out more about foot amputation and how we can help you and your loved ones.

What is foot amputation?

Did you know that the foot and ankle are made of up 26 individual bones and 33 joints? The foot itself is divided into three sections:

In a foot amputation, one or more of these sections is removed. This can sometimes be due to a surgical procedure. But there are also times when foot amputation is the result of trauma – such as a road traffic accident or incident at work. And the impact of this can be significant.

What are the different foot amputation types?

There are different foot amputation levels and types, each of which can have a different impact. Removal of the whole foot may be needed, for example, due to certain kinds of injury. A partial foot amputation, on the other hand, may be necessary to try and preserve other parts that will help you or a loved one to be independent and able to move.

Partial foot amputations can be more common because damage caused by disease or crushing injuries can lead to complications and problems. The different types of foot amputation are:

Syme’s amputation

Syme’s amputation is when your foot is removed at the ankle. It means that – in essence – the whole foot is removed, but the lower leg is left intact. It is named after James Syme, who first published a paper in 1842 describing the procedure in patients who had suffered crushing injuries caused by trauma, non-healing ulcerations, neuroarthropathy and osteomyelitis.

Chopart’s amputation

Chopart’s amputation is a partial foot amputation where the fore and midfoot are removed. The cut is made through your midtarsal joint – leaving the heel bone and ankle joint in place. As the heel is still there, you will be able to put weight on it as there is a good foot stump.

Lisfranc or transmetatarsal amputation

This is another form of partial foot amputation – but only the forefoot is removed. A cut is made across the metatarsal shafts and preserves the mid and hindfoot. This means you can still stand and walk at least short distances without needing orthotics or a prosthetic limb.

The amputated foot can still fit into shoes and provides a better cosmetic outcome. If you have poor blood flow in the foot or a severe infection following an injury or trauma, this form of partial foot amputation can be a common surgical option available to you.

Foot amputation: What are the causes?

It is not often that anyone will choose to lose all or part of a foot unless it cannot be avoided. As it can be the result of a sudden incident or a last medical resort, it can be especially hard to cope in the short-term. After all, you do not have the time to prepare yourself for a foot amputation.

Trauma is one of the most dramatic and unpredictable reasons for foot amputation. An accident can occur in a split second – such as an accident at work. The extreme forces involved can lead to the removal of a foot, which can have serious and immediate consequences, e.g. blood loss.

Surgery or medical intervention is another cause of foot amputation. This can be the result of a traumatic incident if the damage to your foot is so serious that it cannot be repaired. It can also be the only way to relieve pain or prevent future complications such as infection.

Other illnesses and conditions can also cause foot amputation. Diabetes is one example and has been responsible for an alarming increase in lower-limb amputations in England in recent years.

Foot amputation surgery: What does it involve?

If medical intervention is seen as the best or only course of action, full or partial foot amputation surgery is either done under general or local anaesthetic. An epidural or spinal anaesthetic might also be used – depending on the complexity of the surgery.

In the 1950s, Syme’s foot amputation surgery took place in two stages. Six to eight weeks after the removal, a second operation was needed to more firmly attach the fat pad of the heel to the stump of the tibia and fibula to create a platform on which to stand.

Now, however, it is all done in one procedure with part of the lower end of the fibula and tibia being cut about half an inch from the distal ends. The fat and skin of the heel is then brought forward and attached to the stump.

How common is foot amputation?

It is still relatively rare for someone to suffer the loss of all or part of a foot – though this offers no comfort to those it does affect. Data from NHS hospitals in England tells two different stories for 2018-19 too, with total or partial foot amputations decreasing, but toe amputations increasing.

The figures show a total of 1,535 finished consultant episodes (FCEs) for foot amputation, which is down almost 3% compared to the year before. Out of that number, the most common type is amputation through the metatarsal bones (1,314 FCEs).

Toe amputation appears to be much more common, however. The statistics show 7,483 FCEs in 2018-19 – up 6% and most often involving the phalanx of the toe (not the great toe). It is easy to look at these in terms of statistics. But behind each number is a person like you – or a loved one – who must live with the long-term impact of a foot amputation.

The serious injury team at Shoosmiths have a great deal of experience supporting those who need it most after losing all or part of a foot. If foot amputation is the result of an accident or incident that was not your fault, we can support you too. Call 0370 086 8686 or send us a message to learn how.

What is the impact of a foot amputation?

Our feet have such an important role to play in so much that we do each day. To stand upright, it is your feet that are in contact with the ground. Together with your legs and ankles, feet also help us to move – walking, running or more extreme activities such as climbing.

The removal of all or part of a foot can have a significant impact on your day-to-day life for this very reason. It can mean changes to the way that you get about – and can also cause problems with your balance. But the most important thing to know is that you can still do these things.

With the right advice, guidance and aftercare, there is no reason you cannot enjoy a full, happy life – even after a foot amputation. And our team can be here to make sure that happens too.

What are the risks of foot amputation?

The risks of a foot amputation procedure are no different to any other form of surgery. You may, in the short-term, experience pain or bleeding after your operation. And there is also the chance of “phantom limb” – which is a condition where you still feel the part of the foot that is removed.

How can foot amputation affect someone?

From our vast experience of supporting people who are coming to terms with the loss of a limb, we know how deep the impact can be felt – not just by you, but those around you too. The foot amputation recovery process can mean different things to different people too.

On one hand, there is the obvious physical impact that can affect how you stand and move. On another, however, there is the emotional toll that must not be overlooked. That is also why foot amputation recovery times can vary from person to person – because everyone is different.

With our support, we can put you in touch with leading specialists who can help with things such as physiotherapy, rehabilitation and foot prosthesis. Our holistic approach to supporting you and your loved ones is always in tune with your exact needs. We can also offer support in areas such as financial planning and benefits if needed. It is all part of our service to you.

For a free initial consultation and to see if our specialist amputation claims solicitors can support you, phone Shoosmiths on 0370 086 8686 or send us a message.

How can Shoosmiths help?

At Shoosmiths, we pride ourselves in going the extra mile to support people who are coming to terms with the often life-changing impact of a foot amputation. It can be especially tough when that impact is the result of a sudden and unexpected accident that is caused by someone else.

We can help you and your family rebuild your lives in a way that works for you – and overcome any challenges that you now face. Why not discover how we have helped others to get a better idea of how we can also help you?

By phoning us on 0370 086 8686 or sending us a message, you (or a loved one) can talk to us about your experience for free and in confidence. Use our legal expertise and knowledge to see whether you can make a claim for compensation – and how else we may be able to help you.

We also have some other helpful links below:



This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2022

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