An abnormal bony growth most often located at the base joint of the big toe, a bunion can cause a lot of pain and discomfort. In more severe cases, it can even cause issues with mobility. Over time, the big toe can start to move out of its natural position to curve towards the other toes on the same foot, resulting in the base joint of the big toe pushing away from the other toes to form a bunion. The same condition can also form in the smaller toes, referred to as a ‘bunionette’.
Known to be caused by arthritis, genetics and other disorders that affect the skeletal structure of the body, bunions are most often seen in women. The condition can be aggravated by certain forms of footwear, such as high heels with pointed toes. The good news is that even the more severe cases and those that have failed to respond to physical therapy and other non-surgical treatment methods can usually be successfully treated by performing a bunionectomy.
What are the options for surgical treatment?
There are a variety of surgical options available for treatment of bunions, as follows:
- Osteotomy: One of the most popular and highly-effective surgeries available to correct bunions. During the procedure, the surgeon makes small incisions over the tow bones in order to realign the joint. Once the bone is cut and fixed in its original position, a set of surgical metal screws and plates are used to keep the joint aligned as the bone heals, which usually takes a few weeks. This technique is often performed in combination with the ‘soft tissue release’ procedure, which helps to set the bone back in its original position.
- Ligament or Tendon repair: Most often performed when the soft tissue surrounding the big toe becomes tighter on one side, often becoming abnormally loose on the other side. This creates an imbalance that causes the big toe to point towards the other, smaller toes. During this procedure, the surgeon shortens the loose soft tissue on the one side while loosening the tissue on the other side.
- Arthrodesis – This technique is most often used for the most severe cases and/or for patients who have had a previously unsuccessful surgery. During the procedure, the surgeon removes the surface of the joint and realigns it to its normal position, then fixes it in place using metal surgical screws and plates to provide critical support for the big toe while the bones heal naturally.
Who is a good candidate for a bunion surgery?
- Men or women experiencing considerable pain due to the formation of a bunion
- Men and women who’s deformed toe is causing the other toes on the same foot to overlap
- Men and women experiencing limited mobility due to the formation of a bunion
- Men and women for whom extended therapy using NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) has failed to improve the condition
- Men and women experiencing long-term swelling and inflammation that has proven to be resistant to non-surgical treatment methods
- Men and women who have experienced no relief to their pain or discomfort using specialized footwear as advised by a medical professional