You are likely suffering from a bunion (medically referred to as hallux valgus) if you notice a protruding bump on the side of your big toe. This happens when your big toe angles toward the second toe rather than pointing straight ahead, throwing the bones on that part of the foot out of alignment. Bunions usually progress over time and the noticeable bump that you see tends to appear at the later stages. In addition to the bump, you may also experience pain, soreness, numbness, inflammation, and redness. Once patients start to experience some symptoms, we often get asked about options for bunion removal. Here’s what we tell them:
First, note that bunions are a progressive disorder. That is, they will not go away with time and in our experience, usually get worse. However, not every patient’s bunion progresses at the same rate and there are several treatment options depending on your condition. For some patients, these treatment options also include nonsurgical management such as the following:
- Wearing more appropriate footwear. For some patients, all that is required to effectively manage the pain from a bunion is wearing proper shoes. This usually means avoiding high heeled and pointed shoes and opting instead for shoes that have a wide toe box. It is also a good idea to buy shoes from a shop where the staff actually measures your foot
- Modifying activity. Limiting or avoiding activity that causes foot pain, including standing or walking for long periods of time, may help to ease your bunion pain
- Using Padding. Using a gel-filled pad, which can be purchased from a drugstore, places a barrier between the bunion and the skin and helps to relieve irritation
- Wearing Orthotics. While custom orthotics will not take away your bunion deformity, they can help control the pain and progression. This is particularly true when the bunion is not prominent and prone to irritation from rubbing
- Icing your foot: Apply ice to the joint several times a day and elevate your feet to reduce swelling
- Using nonprescription drugs. Taking nonprescription drugs to reduce swelling (such as acetaminophen) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen) may reduce pain and inflammation
Surgical bunion removal options
For some patients, non-surgical treatments do not offer relief and bunion removal surgery may be the only feasible option for getting relief. We are likely to recommend surgery if your foot pain is severe and is restricting you from carrying through with everyday activities. We may also recommend surgery if you are not responding to medication or can’t bend or straighten your toe.
While there are literally hundreds of bunion removal procedures, they all have one common goal: to reduce the pain and the deformity caused by the bunion. The three most common types of bunion removal surgery include exostectomy (where we remove the bunion from the joint), osteotomy (where we cut and reposition your big toe joint) and arthrodesis (where we correct the bunion by using screws or metal plates to replace the damaged joints.)
The good news is that bunion removal surgery is often an outpatient procedure so most patients can go home a few hours after the procedure. In addition, it has a high success rate and, provided you are following the given post-operative guidelines, you should recover within six to eight weeks.
Are you suffering from a bunion and are still unsure about bunion removal options? Visit our podiatrist in Marietta, Ga, Dr. Fui Dawson, for a foot evaluation and a careful analysis of the best options available to you.