This page explains what is involved in bunion surgery. If you would like more information after reading it, please ask your GP or medical health professional.
What is a bunion?
A bunion is a bony lump that develops on the side of your foot and at the base of your big toe. It is generally painful. Bunions are the result of a condition called hallux valgus, which causes the big toe joint to bend towards the other toes and become deformed. As the deformity progresses, the big toe angles towards the second toe, often undermining it and causing a hammertoe deformity. The skin on the sole of your foot may become thickened and painful too and if untreated, the pain may become chronic and arthritis may develop.
Why consider surgery?
If symptoms persist then the toe may need to be surgically corrected. This involves the big toe being straightened. This procedure works to relieve the pain.
Can I avoid surgery?
Yes, although it would be advised to wear shoes adapted to fit comfortably. It’s not clear what causes bunions but they usually run in families and there appears to be a hereditary pre-disposition to developing them. It’s generally believed nowadays that certain shoes such a high heels may not actually cause bunions but merely make the symptoms worse.
What is involved in bunion surgery?
Bunion surgery realigns bone, ligaments, tendons and nerves so your big toe can be brought back to its correct position. Little screws and staples hold the new bone positions. Now thanks to modern techniques, we can perform the surgery as a day case procedure. Successful bunion surgery reduces discomfort and pain and the realignment of the big toe allows your foot to fit more comfortably in normal shoes. Several different operative techniques are available depending on bony angles seen on weight-bearing X-rays.
Risks and complications
Any risks or complications will be discussed in advance of your treatment with your expert consultant.
How long will it take to recover from the operation?
You should be able to go home within 48 hours, usually the same day. By resting with your leg raised, any swelling will settle down. Your foot will be bandaged and you will need to wear a velcro surgical shoe for 4-6 weeks afterwards. Regular exercise will help you recover more quickly. Talk to your GP or healthcare team about this before starting. After six weeks, possibly longer, you should be able to wear your usual footwear, as the swelling will have gone down. Surgery can help to reduce the pain and inconvenience of a bunion by straightening your big toe. After the operation you should be able to return to wearing normal shoes again.
References: EIDO Healthcare Limited - The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you. Image Copyright © 2014 EIDO Healthcare Limited.