A bunion can be a major headache. It may start out small, but as a progressive condition, the bump on the side of your big toe joint tends to bulge out more and more over time, leading to pain, discomfort, difficulty moving the toes, and development of corns and calluses—not to mention more and more difficulty finding shoes that fit comfortably without making the pain even worse.
Unfortunately, once a bunion has formed, the only way to fix it is through surgery. That doesn’t mean every bunion will need an operation, of course. However, many times surgery is simply the best option. At Associates in Podiatry, we’re committed to listening carefully to your concerns and needs and helping you make the best choice.
Is Bunion Surgery Right for Me?
If your bunion isn’t causing you significant pain or hasn’t grown very large, you may find that simply switching to more practical, comfortable footwear and other preventative care techniques. Furthermore, while bunion surgery is usually very safe, there are inherent risks to every procedure, especially if you have any complicating medical conditions. If your main concern is simply how your bunion looks, surgery is probably not for you.
However, those who struggle with foot pain, stiffness, and swelling that won’t go away with rest or conservative care, surgery is often the best choice, especially when bunion pain is restricting your ability to accomplish or enjoy daily tasks.
Surgical Procedures for Bunions
Every foot is unique. Depending on our evaluation, we’ll select a surgical approach (or in many cases a combination of approaches) that makes the most sense for your situation. Common surgical management procedures include:
- Soft Tissue Correction. Surgery loosens tight tendons and soft tissues while lengthening others, restoring balance to structures pulling on your toes.
- Exostectomy. Also known as a “bunionectomy,” this means eliminating the bump by removing the protruding portion of the metatarsal head.
- Osteotomy. In this procedure, bones are cut and realigned, then usually held together with plates or screws.
- Arthrodesis. Patients with more severe bunions may benefit from this procedure, in which arthritis joint surfaces are removed and the bones are fused together.
- Resection arthroplasty. Often chosen for older patients or those with previous unsuccessful bunion surgeries, damaged bone is removed from the joint, which creates a gap that fills in with flexible scar tissue.
Preparing for Surgery and the Road to Recovery
Regardless of the procedure or procedures chosen, most bunion surgeries can be conducted during a single appointment at our office, with no hospital stay and patients able to return home the same day. Normally only local anesthesia is required, but we have other options available if you prefer. You will need someone to help drive you home.
There’s no way around it: bunion surgery recovery takes time. Although the recovery process varies depending on the type of surgery performed, your age, and your health status; a full recovery may last anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months or more.
The success of surgery also depends on your commitment to post-operative care. It’s essential that you follow all our instructions, including keeping the stitches dry, avoiding weight bearing activities until we give you the go-ahead, performing any post-operative physical therapy, and calling us immediately if you notice any trouble signs of infection, such as fever or chills.
Still, while no one particularly enjoys a lengthy recovery, a few weeks or months of limited or no weight bearing is often a relatively small price to pay for a lasting solution to chronic, debilitating pain.
If bunions are causing a major pain in your life, we urge you to schedule an appointment with the experts at Associates in Podiatry. Dr. Todd E. Stevens is dedicated to offering the highest level of service to their patients and will take the time to help you through the process, whether you decide on surgery or not. To schedule an appointment, please use our online appointment request form, or call us at (609) 924-8333 for the Princeton office or (908) 687-5757 for Roselle Park.