The three greatest achievements in medicine are probably immunizations (which have wiped out certain diseases that used to plague humanity), antibiotics (which have saved countless lives from the ravages of infection) and anesthetics, (spelled 'anaesthetics' in Britain) which have allowed surgeons to develop and perform life-saving procedures to cure sickness and alleviate pain and suffering. Indeed, without anesthetics, most surgery performed today would be impossible. 

It used to be that almost all foot surgery--even a simple ingrown nail procedure--was performed under general anesthesia, where the patient is put to sleep.  But general anesthesia can occasionally cause medical problems, and it's tough on the body, so we are lucky that general anesthesia is rarely necessary for us to perform foot surgery today. 

In addition to general anesthesia, some of the other types of anesthesia that may be used for foot surgery: 

IV sedation (where the patient is given a drug to make him or her unaware of what's going on without being put to sleep)

Spinal anesthesia, (where the foot and leg are put to sleep by giving an injection into the spine)

Bier blocks (where the foot and leg are put to sleep by giving an injection into the circulation with the use of a tourniquet)

Local anesthesia (where only the portion of the body that needs to be numbed is anaesthetized).  This is the same type of anesthesia a dentist is likely to use, and it is the most common form of anesthesia used in the foot. 

Even when general anesthesia is used, however, it is a good idea to use local anesthesia at the same time.  This is because when the patient is put under general anesthesia, the brain is still sensing the pain and trauma of the surgery, even while the patient is asleep.  When the patient then wakes up, he experiences more pain post-operatively. 

It has been shown that patients who are made completely numb before a procedure is begun--even when general anaesthesia is used--are less likely to have post-operative pain. 



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