You don't necessarily want surgery, but nothing seems to be working, and the bunion pain in your foot is only getting worse.
Is it time for surgery?
The answer to that question isn't black and white, and it differs from person to person. Dr. Maurice Aiken, our podiatry expert at Bay Breeze Foot & Ankle Specialists, has years of experience diagnosing and treating bunions. He knows when to turn to conservative methods and when to draw the line and recommend surgery.
Here, he explains when you become a candidate for bunion surgery.
The outlook on your bunion
There are a few things to know about bunions before we discuss your surgical options. First, you should know that bunions don't typically get better on their own, and conservative treatments can't "cure" a bunion. Surgery is the only way to get rid of the painful bump.
Second, even with diligent care, bunions can still worsen over time. Once a bunion has developed, you can take steps to slow its progression, but you may not be able to stop it completely. In many cases, surgery becomes inevitable.
That said, there's no reason to rush you to the operating room. We always exhaust conservative treatments before recommending surgery. Early intervention can keep your feet mobile and pain-free for a long time before it's necessary. Some of the methods we use most often include:
- Recommending supportive, flexible shoes
- Using cushioning pads or orthotics to reduce pressure on your bunion
- Using functional orthotics to correct abnormal foot motion
We monitor your progress closely, making adjustments when and if they're needed.
When will I know it's time for surgery?
Knowing the exact moment for bunion surgery results from a discussion between you and Dr. Aiken. After establishing a baseline for your bunion and then regularly evaluating your response to conservative treatments, we team up with you to decide when surgery is the best way forward.
Other telltale signs that suggest you're ready for surgery include the following:
- Prolonged, chronic, or worsening pain
- Pain that interferes with your daily life
- Conservative treatments have failed or are no longer working
- Lack of mobility that keeps you from engaging in activities
We also recommend surgery if your bunion is causing a toe deformity (a drifting of your big toe toward the small toe) or if you're unable to bend and straighten your toe.
What to expect from foot surgery
We understand if you're wary about resorting to surgery to fix your bunion. Fortunately, we use minimally invasive techniques to remove your bunion quickly and with as little disruption to your life as possible.
The surgical procedure for bunions can be a single- or multiple-step operation. It typically involves:
- Removing swollen tissue from your big toe joint
- Straightening your big toe by removing part of the bone
- Realigning bones in your forefoot to correct the angle in your big toe
Depending on the severity of your bunion, we use a slightly different approach. Mild bunions usually only require removing the enlarged portion of bone and realigning the muscles, tendons, and ligaments surrounding the toe joint. Severe bunions, especially those that stem from arthritis, may be beyond repair and require joint replacement.
Many of our patients can bear weight after bunion surgery, but it's crucial to allow adequate time to rest and recover your foot. Full recovery can take weeks to months. We teach you ways to keep your weight on your heel and modify your gait to promote faster healing, but a good rule of thumb is to keep weight off the surgical site and follow all rehab instructions.
To keep bunions from coming back, wear comfortable, supportive shoes exclusively. It's also critical to manage underlying health conditions that can lead to bunions, such as arthritis.
Is your bunion giving you grief? Have our expert evaluate it and set you up with a customized treatment plan. Call or click to schedule an appointment at our Dunedin, Florida, office today.