Bunions are progressive bone deformities of the foot that often cause recurring or chronic inflammation, irritation, and pain that require surgical correction.
Surgical removal of a bunion is called a bunionectomy. However, there are multiple types of
Surgeries to remove bunions fall into two major categories:
- Head procedures that treat the big toe joint. In a head procedure bunionectomy, the bone is cut just behind the joint, moved into its proper position, and fixed in place with a screw or pin. Head procedures are often used for patients who cannot be immobilized for long periods of time.
- Base procedures concentrate on the bone near or behind the big toe joint. Different types of base procedures are conducted depending on the nature of the deformity. These range from cutting a wedge out of the bone and splitting it so that it can be moved into its proper position; making a semi-circular cut and rotating the bone into its correct position; or fusing the joint. Ligaments inside and outside the toe may also be treated during a base procedure.
There are three important factors that impact the success of bunion surgery:
- Choose a surgeon with extensive experience with
bunionectomies. Because a deep understanding of the biomechanics of each patient’s foot as well as the intricacies of each surgical optionis required, surgeons with more experience with bunionectomiesare better able to help each patient achieve the best outcome.
- Be realistic in your expectations about what a bunionectomy can accomplish. No physician can guarantee that a bunion won’t recur or that a patient will be absolutely
pain free. Additionally, because of the complexity of the foot structures impacted by bunions, patients may never be able to wear normal or slender shoes. Surgery for bunions can reduce or eliminate the bone deformity, improve foot alignment and function, and prevent damage to other toes, but it does have its limitations. Be sure you understand all the possibilities before opting for this surgery.
- Bunion surgery is not a magic bullet. Surgery alone may not be all that is needed to achieve your best outcome. After surgery, many patients experience long healing and recovery times and often have to spend time in physical therapy. Additionally, you may need a corrective orthotic device on an ongoing basis.
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