A bunion is a bony growth that develops at the base of the big toe joint. When this happens, the bump pushes the bones of the big toe toward the other toes. Bunions deform the feet and usually cause discomfort or pain. Bunion correction is treating the bunion, either surgically or nonsurgically.
Bunion correction surgery is performed to relieve pain and swelling and to correct the deformity. These procedures can be performed by an orthopaedic surgeon or a surgical podiatrist. Click here to understand the difference between an orthopaedic surgeon with advanced training in the foot and ankle versus a podiatrist.
There are several reasons why a person might develop a bunion, from having arthritis to inheriting it, to wearing the wrong shoes.
Bunions can often be recognized just by looking at them. However, the orthopaedist will probably take X-rays of the bunion to better understand the extent of the damage to the big toe joint. He or she may also order blood tests if the arthritis is suspected as the cause of pain.
The treatment the orthopaedic doctor recommends will depend on what is causing the bunion. If bunions are treated in their earliest stages, surgery can often be avoided. Therefore, if you think you may have a bunion, you should contact your orthopaedic doctor as soon as possible for medical advice.
Prior to recommending surgery, an orthopaedic doctor may prescribe orthopaedic shoes, custom shoe inserts, bunion pads, splints, or medications.
If nonsurgical treatments are not helpful or no longer relieve pain, bunion surgery could be a good option and will be discussed with the patient.
If the bunions are severe, not only causing pain when walking but also interfering with daily activities or work, surgery could be a good option. Surgery should only be performed if your bunion or toe pain is severe, not to change the appearance of the foot.
Prior to the procedure, anesthesia will be given and the orthopaedist will make an incision at the top of the big toe or along the side of your foot. Next, a small piece of the bone is removed. It is then used to reposition the big toe. The orthopaedic surgeon may also insert a wire or screw to help keep the bone aligned. Shortening loose tendons and ligaments may also be necessary, and sometimes, excess bone must be shaved off. Finally, the incision is closed, a dressing is applied, and the procedure is complete.
After the procedure, the patient will go to a recovery room to be monitored. For the first few days after surgery, you must keep your foot elevated as much as possible. The orthopaedic doctor may also provide pain medications and recommend icing the area to help reduce swelling and pain. A protective boot will be provided and your orthopaedic doctor will tell you when to start wearing it.
Bunion surgery recovery time may take several weeks up to two months and is largely dependent on how well the doctor's post-operation instructions are followed. Patients should expect instructions regarding dressing care, medications, swelling, bearing weight, physical therapy, exercise, and shoe wear. Although every patient is different, patients should expect to use a protective boot to bear weight soon after having surgery. The orthopaedic surgeon may also recommend exercises or refer to a physical therapist to assist in rehabilitation as part of the recovery process.
As with any foot surgery, there is a risk of infection or blood clots while healing. Also, it is important to follow the orthopaedic surgeon’s instructions regarding proper foot care as long as possible to prevent bunions from recurring and to complete a full recovery. Sometimes after surgery, a patient can no long fit into certain shoes or move their big toe as well as they could before surgery.
Good candidates for bunion surgery commonly have:
- Significant foot pain
- Chronic big toe inflammation and swelling
- Toe deformity
- Toe stiffness
Failure to obtain pain relief from footwear changes and/or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs There are a number of bunion correction surgery techniques that vary based on the needs of the patient and bunion deformity. Your orthopaedic doctor may discuss one of the following with you.
- Repairing the Tendons and Ligaments Around the Big Toe
- Resection Arthroplasty
Why choose Tidewater Orthopaedics?
If you are considering bunion correction surgery, you should seek out an orthopaedist with experience and training in bunion correction to perform your procedure. With years of experience and advanced training devoted to the orthopaedic care of the foot, our esteemed foot surgeon at Tidewater Orthopaedics, Dr. Paul Maloof, is the unparalleled expert in accurately diagnosing and effectively treating foot injuries and conditions.
Dr. Paul Maloof has the knowledge, proficiency, and skill to accurately diagnose and effectively treat your foot injury or condition so you can get back to your active lifestyle quickly and safely.
To consult with our Tidewater Orthopaedics surgeon, please request an appointment online or call (757) 827-2480.