What Is a Bunion?

Bunions are often described as a bump on the side of the big toe. But a bunion is more than that. The visible bump actually reflects changes in the bony framework of the front part of the foot. With a bunion, the big toe leans toward the second toe, rather than pointing straight ahead. This throws the bones out of alignment producing the bunion’s bump.
The condition is hereditary and typically progresses in severity with age.
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Do I need to fix it?
It is typically not indicated to fix a bunion deformity unless the condition is becoming painful and effecting your everyday activities. Diabetic patients will sometimes require corrective surgery for bunions when the condition is causing ulcers or wounds to form as a result of abnormal pressure. The longer (in years) that one waits to correct a deformity, the more arthritis that will occur to the joint, and less correction can be achieved.

We can walk you through the surgical process, educate you on the recovery, and discuss when it’s time to proceed with correction.

What does surgery involve?
In order to “correct” a bunion deformity, the joint itself needs to be realigned. Most of the time, the procedure simply involves realigning the head of the 1st Metatarsal bone by making a cut through the bone and fixing with a screw (that does not need to be removed.) In more severe cases, the entire metatarsal bone will need to be realigned by “fusing” a joint in the midfoot region. In either case, the procedure is agreed upon by the physician and the patient to ensure the deformity will not reoccur.

Will I need to miss Work?
When it does become painful, surgery is usually planned in well enough in advance so that you can arrange for time off of work, etc. which varies with the demands of your occupation. If your job allows you to sit, then most likely you could be back to work within 1 week. If you are on your feet for 8-10 hours, then it could be 6 to 8 weeks depending on the procedure that needs to be performed.

What type of Recovery is involved?
The recover period depends on which procedure was performed. A person with a mild bunion deformity will typically be in a Short Leg Cam Walker for 3 weeks, then progress to a running shoe after that for several more weeks. Crutches are not required, although sometimes preferred by the patient for the first few days after surgery. More severe bunions that require midfoot correction typically require crutches for the first week, then gradual weight bearing in a Cam Walker for up to 6 to 8 weeks. Procedures are performed out-patient and do not require staying overnight in the hospital.

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