Bunion Surgery: Is It Right for You?


Bunion Surgery

A bunion is an unnatural and bony lump that forms at the base joint of the big toe. Bunions are known to be caused by genetic factors, weak or poor foot structure or develop due to arthritis. This condition is more prevalent among women as compared to men. At times, due to various reasons, the big tow may curve towards the other toes and this can result in the first big toe joint to be pushed outward, thus forming a bunion. The same condition developing in the little toe is called a ‘bunionette’. A bunion in the first joint of the big toe can be extremely painful as the complete weight of your body gets divided among the two big toes in both feet. Bunions are also vulnerable to excess friction or pressure from shoes and can give rise to painful calluses.

Who is a candidate for a Bunion Surgery?

A surgical treatment for bunion is considered when your bunion is severely painful and other treatment methods have failed to provide relief from its painful symptoms. Normally, an ideal candidate for a bunion surgery has:
  • Considerable foot pain that restricts daily activities such as walking and wearing shoes
  • Prolonged big toe inflammation and swelling that cannot be treated successfully with rest or medications
  • A toe deformity which causes the toes to overlap each other
  • Failed to achieve relief from foot pain even after using specialized footwear
  • Failed to achieve successful relief from the painful symptoms of bunions even after sessions of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
The basic aims of the bunion surgery are:
  • Realigning the base joint of the big toe
  • Providing pain relief
  • Correcting the deformed bones of the toe and foot

What are the different types of Bunion Surgeries?

Before planning your surgery the doctor/surgeon will take into consideration several factors such as the severity of your bunion, your age, level of everyday activity and other medical factors which may affect your recovery. Almost all type of bunion surgeries are done as an outpatient procedure and may use either local, or general, anesthesia depending on the doctor’s discretion. As the bunions vary in size and shape the surgery required to treat them are also different. Mostly, a bunion surgery requires correcting the alignment of the bone as well as repairing the soft tissues around the big toe. Your doctor will suggest the type of treatment required to treat your bunion. These are the various methods of bunion surgery: Tendon/Ligament Repair This type of bunion surgery is required when the soft tissues surrounding the big toe might become excessively tight on one side and too loose on the opposite side which creates an imbalance causing the big toe to shift towards the other toes. A surgery can be useful in shortening the loose tissues on one side and lengthening the tight tissues on the other side. This is mostly accompanied by realignment of the toe bones, called an ‘osteotomy’. Osteotomy This bunion surgery requires making small cuts in the toe bones to realign the joints in their original position. After the bone is cut, it is fixed in a straight position with the help of medical-grade screws, pins or plates. This makes the bones straighter and also balances the joint. Osteotomy is usually performed in combination with a soft tissue procedure as both are mostly required to maintain the realignment of the toe. Arthrodesis This surgery involves removing the arthritic joint surface and realigning them and fixing them in place with metal screws, plates or wires till the bone heals. This surgical treatment is suitable for patients with severe bunion or severe arthritis as well as for patients with a previously unsuccessful bunion surgery. Exostectomy This surgical procedure requires the surgeon to remove the bony bump from your toe joint. This procedure is not often used as a stand-alone procedure because removing the bunion does not necessarily realign the joint. This surgery is mostly performed in combination with osteotomy and other soft tissue procedure. Resection Arthroplasty This surgery involves removing the damaged portion of the joint. This helps increase the space between the bones and creates a flexible hinge-like joint. This surgery is used especially for elderly patients as well as for patients with previously unsuccessful bunion surgery.

What are the risks associated with Bunion Surgery?

As is seen in any type of major surgery the bunion surgery also carries certain risks. These are the possible risks and complications that may arise after a bunion surgery:
  • Infection
  • Nerve damage/injury
  • Bleeding
  • Pain-relief failure
  • Big toe stiffness
  • Bunion recurrence
The doctor/surgeon will take every possible precaution to avoid the above-mentioned risks from arising.
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