The bony bump that develops at the base of the big toe is called a bunion.
Wearing shoes that are too narrow/small is considered the most common cause of this painful condition.
Bunions are more common in women than in men.
A surgical procedure is necessary to correct the deformity if it does not respond to noninvasive treatments.
Bunion removal is otherwise referred to as hallux valgus (Latin phrase for “foot deformity”) correction, bunionectomy, or bunions surgery.
Some individuals with bunion alleviate the pain by wearing larger shoes. Others find wearing protected pads will also help.
Unfortunately, there are instances where even making lifestyle adjustments won’t improve the condition.
In similar cases, bunion surgery would be the best recourse.
Common scenarios that require bunions surgery include the following:
- The pain is so severe that it makes performing everyday activities/routine challenging.
- Patient can no longer walk for more than a few blocks sans pain.
- The big toe remains painful and swollen despite proper medication and rest.
- Bending or straightening the toe becomes impossible.
For likely candidates of bunion surgery, discussing the condition with the doctor is highly recommended. This is necessary so both doctor and patient can decide on the type of surgery needed to correct the condition.
An X-ray of the affected foot might also be taken to accurately diagnose the condition.
There are more than 100 different kinds of bunion removal procedures available that will realign the big toe and remove the bunion.
In most cases, the type of bunion removal surgery will depend on the size and the progression of the condition.
Prior to the surgery, patient will likely be asked to undergo a few tests to gauge the overall health. An X-ray of the lungs, a cardiogram (to check for heart function), and urine and blood tests might also be prescribed. This is done to check for underlying illnesses.
Patient may also be asked to stop taking blood-thinning and other medications at least a few days before the surgery will take place.
Patients are often allowed to go home after the surgery and once the anesthesia has worn off.
Patients might also be asked to fast but the doctor will have to determine the starting time based on the scheduled time of the operation.
Directions provided by the doctor should be adhered to at all times so any likely complications can be avoided.
Typically, bunion removal surgery does not require general anesthetic. In most cases, a local anesthetic called an ankle block is given. An ankle block works by numbing the area below the knee.
Once the knee is numb, the surgeon will then remove the bunion and make the necessary repairs.
Some of the most common types of bunion removal procedures are exostectomy, arthrodesis, and osteotomy.
- Exostectomy – bunion removal is performed but no alignment is done.
- Osteotomy – the big toe joint is cut and is realigned.
- Arthrodesis – the damaged joint are replaced with metal plates or screws to correct the deformity.
After bandaging the surgery, the patient will be taken to the recovery room. While wearing for the anesthesia to wear off, the heart rate and blood pressure will also be monitored. In most cases, the patient can already leave after a couple of hours.
Recovery from bunion surgery will often take six to eight weeks. Full recovery can take four to six months. Patients will have to wear a cast or a surgical boot for at least two weeks after the surgery. Caution should also be exercised so the stitches do not get wet.