A bunion is a misalignment of the big toe joint that indicates a structural problem in the foot. Bunions are a very common deformity of the foot, particularly among women. They are most often caused by frequent use of high heels and too-tight shoes.
Bunions occur when the base of the big toe becomes enlarged to the point that it sticks out. The big toe begins to angle in toward the second toe and may eventually move underneath the second toe or force it out of alignment. Some patients may develop arthritis as a result of the bunion. Bunions can be very painful, and more severe bunions may make it difficult to walk. This usually indicates a more severe problem that will require surgery to correct.
Surgical Treatment of Bunions
For patients who have painful bunions, surgery is often required. For these patients, foot pain continues even when wearing comfortable shoes. The goal of bunion surgery is to realign the big toe joint to relieve pain and improve function. There are several different types of procedures that may be used to correct a bunion, depending on the cause and severity of the deformity. Most bunion correction procedures can be done on an outpatient basis.
During an osteotomy, the joint is cut and realigned. If the tendons and ligaments are too tight on one side and too loose on the other, the loose tissues will be tightened and the tight tissues will be lengthened.
If the patient has severe arthritis, a resection arthroplasty may be performed. A resection arthroplasty involves removing the damaged portion of the joint, and the bones are reshaped to restore the joint to proper alignment.
In more severe cases, an arthrodesis may be the best option. Arthrodesis involves removing the damaged portions of the joint, then inserting screws, wires, and/or plates to hold the bones together as they heal.
Recovering from Bunion Surgery
Full recovery from bunion surgery can take several months. You may need to use a walker, cane, or crutches to keep weight off your foot for the first few days after surgery.
You may experience swelling in your foot for as long as six months after surgery. Ice packs can be applied to the foot to help with pain and swelling while you heal. Until the foot has fully healed, you may need to wear athletic shoes or other soft, roomy, flat shoes.
In some cases, exercises or physical therapy may be recommended to help restore strength and range of motion in the foot.
The Importance of Choosing the Right Footwear
Although bunion surgery can greatly reduce foot pain and realign the big toe, it does not mean that you can wear narrow, tightly-fitted shoes. Even after surgery, you will continue to have some shoe restrictions to prevent the bunion from coming back. Getting properly-fitted shoes will help to minimize your risk of foot problems in the future. You should never force your foot into shoes that do not fit correctly.
Well-fitted shoes should conform to the shape of your foot. To select the right shoes, look for these elements:
- A wide instep
- Broad toes
- Soft soles
- Heels no higher than 2 ¼ inches
- ½ inch of space from the longest to to the end of the shoe while standing
Feet swell slightly throughout the day, so make sure to have your shoes fitted at the end of the day when your feet are largest.
Bunion Surgery in Houston, TX
The podiatrists at Spring Branch Podiatry work with patients to determine the best course of action for treating foot conditions, including bunions. Our podiatrists use the most advanced techniques possible, should surgery be necessary. If you would like to learn more about bunion surgery at Spring Branch Podiatry or schedule an appointment, contact us at (713) 461-1010.