Bunions are pesky bumps that can be very uncomfortable and even painful. If you have tried every conservative treatment method and nothing has worked to ease your pain then you might wish to consider surgery. Surgery is only used in extreme cases, not as a “go to” treatment plan.
What is a Bunion?
A bunion is a bump that forms on the side of your big toe. It is the result of the toe being pushed outward by the other toes. The bump consists of bone and soft tissue. Bunions will often form as a side effect of wearing shoes that are too tight in the toe area, however, this is not what causes a bunion to form.
Some people are just naturally more predisposed to developing bunions because of their genetics. In other words, the shoes are not to blame, but they may aggravate a bad situation. Many people find relief from bunion pain by changing their footwear or adding a bit of padding to protect their bump. There are also stretches you can do to take stress off your toes. Unfortunately, in some cases this is not enough and the pain will simply not go away. When this happens you may be a good candidate for bunion surgery.
Preparing for Surgery
Before your surgery you will undergo some testing to make sure you are in good health to undergo a surgical procedure. Once you are cleared you will go in for your surgery. This type of procedure is usually done on an outpatient basis, meaning you will go in and leave on the same day. You will most likely be put under a local anesthetic, which means that you will be numb but awake. There are various types of procedures for removing a bunion and your doctor will discuss all of these with you. A few common types are:
Osteotomy: The big toe joint is cut and then the toe is realigned back into its correct position.
Exostectomy: The bunion is removed, but the toe is not realigned.
Arthrodesis: The damaged joint is replaced with screws.
After the procedure is over you will be stitched and bandaged and will be required to wait until the anesthesia wears off. At this point you will typically be allowed to go home.
Recovery After Your Procedure
The full recovery period for bunion surgery can take up to five months. The first two weeks or so you will be required to wear a cast to protect your wound. It’s important to remember to keep your stitches dry so healing can take place. The cast will be replaced by a brace, which will support your foot. It’s a good idea not to try and push yourself to bear weight on your feet. You will gradually begin to put more and more pressure on your feet until you can bear your full weight, but don’t push yourself too quickly. Your doctor may recommend special shoes to minimize your pain. You may also be recommended for physical therapy to build up your strength.
If you have a bunion that just won’t stop causing you pain call Dr. Mitchell Wachtel, podiatrist North Andover, at (978) 794-8406 to schedule an appointment with us at one of our three Massachusetts office locations.