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Bunion Surgery

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.


Figure 1
Bunion on the left foot

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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.

What is involved in bunion surgery?

Most surgery can be performed as a day case and takes up to an hour. The surgeon will operate on the ligaments of the big toe, to make it straighter and align it with the smaller toes.

Possible complications:

From surgery generally

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Infected wound
  • Scars at the operation site
  • Blood clots

From bunion surgery

  • Loss of feeling due to nerve damage
  • Bone healing problems
  • Lack of movement in the big toe
  • Discomfort in the ball of the foot
  • The bunion returns
  • Severe pain, stiffness or even loss of use of the foot (known as complex regional pain syndrome)

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.

In conclusion

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.

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