Our feet have the major responsibilities of walking, running, and climbing. Now add the fact that they support the entire weight of our body. No wonder there are so many problems that can arise with feet—take bunions for instance.
Bunions occur over time when there is prolonged stress on the joint of the big toe. They primarily form due to improper footwear, such as tight or pointed shoes. Sometimes, bunions are inherited from family members. No matter the reason for your bunion, we're here to help.
Do I Need Surgery?
Has that bump on your toe gotten bigger? Is the joint perpetually swollen and inflamed despite the use of medication? Perhaps foot pain occurs even when wearing comfortable shoes. If you've tried non-surgical treatments to no avail, bunion surgery may be right for you. There are many factors that influence the type of procedure that best suits your needs. Depending on the severity of your bunion, your age, general health, activity level, and the condition of your bones and connective tissues, there are several different surgical options.
Types of Bunion Surgery
Bunions can be very painful. Sometimes the only option is a surgical procedure called a bunionectomy.
- For mild bunions, your doctor will remove the enlarged portion of the bone and realign the ligaments, tendons, and muscles surrounding the joint.
- With moderate cases, your doctor may cut the bone and realign it to its proper position. The tendons and ligaments will also be repositioned.
- If your bunion is severe, the enlarged portion of the joint may actually be removed, cut, and realigned. This in turn will correct the location of the tendons and ligaments.
- For many arthritic bunions, the joint is damaged beyond repair. In these cases, the joint may need to be reconstructed or replaced altogether. Joint replacement may be used to reconstruct the big toe joint.
What Are The Risks?
As with any surgical treatments, complications may occur, including: stiffness, numbness, swelling, slow healing, and infection. In some cases, the bunion may reoccur. There is potential for nerve damage and even continued pain. Though these are rare, it's important to understand the risks.
Don't be afraid to ask questions. We want you to be as comfortable as possible and remain informed. Notify your doctor if you have any allergies or sensitivity to medications, latex, tape, and anesthetic agents. Be sure to have a list of any current medications. You may be asked to refrain from eating eight hours prior to the procedure. Based on your condition and physical health, your doctor may request other specific preparation.
Some procedures are done on an outpatient basis or as part of a hospital visit. Most surgeries are performed under ankle block anesthesia, in which your foot is numb, but you are awake. After the procedure, the area will be closed with stitches and a sterile bandage will be applied. In the recovery room, your blood pressure and heart rate will be monitored as the anesthesia wears off. Generally, you're allowed to go home after a couple of hours. Be sure to arrange for someone to drive you.
Full recovery from bunion surgery can take anywhere from 4 to 5 months. Following the first few weeks of surgery, you'll need to wear a surgical boot or cast to protect your foot. You'll soon move onto a brace to support the foot while it heals further. Bearing weight on the foot will be difficult at first. You may need crutches or a cane. Be sure to keep off of your feet as much as possible and ice your foot often to reduce swelling. Operating a vehicle is permitted within a week or two after surgery.
Expect your foot to remain swollen for several months—this is normal. Always wear shoes that provide ample room for the toes and avoid heels that place pressure on the joint.
If non-surgical treatments haven't worked for you, we'll find something that will. Contact Dr. Sanjay Patel at Family Foot Care and Surgery, L.L.C. You can reach us through our website or by calling either of our locations—(203) 876-7736 for our Milford, CT office, or (203) 288-4055 for Hamden, CT.