You’ve tried stretches, different shoes, toe separators—nothing seems to ease your pain. Most bunions do not require surgery, but sometimes when conservative treatments just don’t seem to be working, you may have to consider having your painful bump surgically removed.

This can be a scary, but it can also eliminate pain, correct deformities, and get you back to your regular life. Understanding bunions and the different surgical options will help put your mind at ease.

The Bump’s Beginnings

A bunion occurs when your big toe starts to drift toward the others, forcing the joint outward and causing it to inflame. A bunionette is similar, but occurs on the fifth, or pinky toe. The most common cause of these conditions is wearing improper shoes that squeeze your feet into an unnatural position resulting in deformity of the joints. Hereditary and diseases such as arthritis or polio are also culprits.

Preventing Protrusions

By wearing proper shoes you can reduce your chances of getting bunions or bunionettes. Your shoes should conform to the natural shape of your foot. Make sure they have a firm heel grip to avoid slippage. Also, there should be a ½ inch space between your big toe and the tip of your shoe and plenty of room to extend all of your toes without any of them being squeezed together.

Types of Bunion Surgeries

While there are different surgeries to treat you bunion, they all have the same goal: to realign your toe, alleviate pain, and correct the deformity. What type of procedure is right for you depends on the severity of your condition.

Correcting the tendons and ligaments—either tightening or loosening the tendons and/or ligaments around your big toe, to keep the bone from drifting.

Osteotomy—the bone is cut and then realigned.

Arthrodesis—removing the joint surface and replacing it with metal plates or screws to hold the bone in place allowing it to heal properly.

Exostectomy—complete removal of the bony prominence.

Resection Arthroplasty—typically used for older patients who have already had bunion surgery, part of the joint is removed.

Recovery Process

Special bandages will be places on your foot to help keep your foot in the correct healing position. Your foot will then either be placed in a cast to keep it from moving, or you will wear a special postoperative surgical shoe. Keep the bandages dry and do not move them, as they are a key part of your healing process.

Putting weight on your foot can be painful and counterproductive to recovery. A walker, cane, or crutches can be used to help keep from bearing weight on it. As your foot begins to heal, you will be able to gradually bear weight.

Exercises and physical therapy are utilized to strengthen your foot after surgery. These exercises will increase your flexibility and range-of-motion. Always remember to start slowly with exercises and build as your foot heals.

Bunions are a common and treatable condition. Call Mark Gasparini, D.P.M. at (516) 804-9038 or stop in at our office in Bethpage, NY to see what your treatment options are. Start your journey to pain-free feet today.

Photo Credit: Marin via