If you notice a bony bump forming on the side of your foot below your big toe, this slight deformity is called a bunion. Having a bunion can be a painful experience. When you come to OrthoBethesda for bunion treatment, we attempt conservative measures first and foremost for our Bethesda, Maryland, patients. However, if this fails to relieve your symptoms, you may need bunion surgery, also called a bunionectomy.
What Is a Bunion?
A hallux valgus, more commonly referred to as a bunion, is a large growth consisting of both bone and soft tissue. You may notice it as a significant bump forming around the joint near your big toe. Bunions can develop when the bone that joins your big toe to the first metatarsal bone becomes larger. This tightens the tendons, causing the base of your big toe to angle out. The resulting bony deformity can be quite uncomfortable.
Causes of Bunions
The most common reason people develop bunions is by wearing small or narrow footwear, which compresses the toes into unnatural positions. Women are more likely to develop bunions, as high-heeled shoes or those that are small and pointy tend to be the culprits for bunions. Genetics or certain diseases can also increase your risk of bunions, including arthritis or polio.
Indications You May Need Bunion Surgery
If you're not sure if you need bunion surgery, look out for the following symptoms that may indicate this is the best course of action:
- Pain while wearing shoes
- Swelling at the base of the big toe
- Red, calloused skin
- Decreased mobility of your big toe
- Big toe begins turning inward toward your second toe
- Large, bulging bump at the base of your big toe
- Corns and calluses forming where your big toe and second toe overlap
Bunion Removal Surgical Options
When you come to OrthoBethesda, your surgeon will take the time to confirm your bunion diagnosis and examine your foot to ensure you get the best care possible. Initially, your doctor may recommend conservative treatment measures with the hope of reducing or eliminating painful symptoms. Examples of this could include specially designed shoes or inserts, taping or padding the bunion and even physical therapy. Certain medications can also help with pain and inflammation.
However, if these options fail to treat your bunion pain, then your OrthoBethesda doctor may recommend a surgical procedure. There are several bunionectomy treatments, yet they all have the same goals — realign the joint, correct the foot deformity and relieve pain and discomfort.
- Osteotomy: This form of open foot surgery is one of the most common bunion treatments. It involves gaining access to the bunion through a surgical incision and realigning the toe joint. Your surgeon may choose one of three types of osteotomies based on your presentation — akin, chevron and scarf osteotomies.
- Lapidus Bunionectomy: During this procedure, the big toe is realigned by fusing the bones that form the joint at the base of the big toe. Once fused, the first metatarsal does not move abnormally which allows for your big toe to remain straight, preventing bunions from returning.
- Minimally Invasive Bunion Surgery: Using small keyhole incisions, your surgeon corrects the deformity and removes the bunion. This procedure involves the use of arthroscopy, a flexible tube with a camera and light attached at the end which can be inserted through the incision, allowing your surgeon to view the inside of your foot and joint without having to make a larger incision.
Risks and Complications of Bunion Surgery
Depending on the type of bunion surgery your doctor recommends, you should be aware of a few complications related to these procedures:
- Bunion recurrence
- Damage to nerves
- Continued pain
- Potential second surgery to correct problems
Aftercare Following Bunion Surgery
After your bunion surgery, be sure to follow all the instructions given to you by your OrthoBethesda physician. Common post-operative aftercare includes:
- Keeping your dressing dry
- Avoiding putting weight on your foot
- Using crutches for several weeks
- Elevating your foot above heart level to reduce swelling
- Performing exercises and attending physical therapy to strengthen foot and restore range of motion
- Eating a healthy diet
Call OrthoBethesda for More Information About Bunion Surgery
When you come to OrthoBethesda because of pain or discomfort caused by bunions, our highly trained orthopedic surgeons will examine you closely so we can determine the best course of treatment for you. This may be conservative measures, or we may counsel you to proceed with one of the bunion surgeries which we specialize in. If you live in or near Bethesda, MD, contact us today to make an appointment by calling (301) 530-1010.