A new piece of research published in the British Medical Journal has found that surgery commonly undertaken on severe heel fractures is actually no more effective than other non-surgical treatments available, Arthritis Research UK reports.
On top of this revelation, the researchers – from Warwick Medical School – discovered that patients who underwent surgery actually suffered from painful complications that patients who opted for non-surgical treatment avoided. Almost one fifth of those who underwent surgery developed an infection and 11% required further surgery to treat painful and infected screws.
The study, led by Damian Griffin, a professor of trauma at Warwick Medical School, consisted of a randomised trial involving 22 hospitals from across the UK. It was one of the largest ever trials on orthopaedic surgery ever conducted.
Griffin noted that this study “is likely to have a significant impact in the UK and around the world”, as it can aid “future developments in surgical techniques to treat these fractures.”
A total of 150 patients took part in the study and were separated into surgical and non-surgical groups. The recovery from the heel fracture injuries was long for both groups, the research pointed out. Around 85% returned to work after two years´ recovery, with the majority returning to less psychically strenuous work.
Around 2,000 people in the UK suffer from fractured heels, which can be caused by road accidents, falling off ladders and other similar situations. In some cases, the damage can be so severe it can lead to foot deformity, arthritis and the need to use a walking stick.