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When Bunions Need Surgery

  • Dr. Bruce Zappan
  • August 31, 2017

Bunions are bumps that form—usually on the big toe—as it bends and points towards the other toes. Often thought to be hereditary, this condition can become painful and debilitating over time if simple and early treatment isn’t employed to decrease the severity. Some of these conservative treatments include stretching, icing, wearing shoes with a wide toe box, and using custom orthotics.

When conservative treatments for bunions have not brought about relief from pain and discomfort, surgery may be the best option.

Some complications that can make a patient a good candidate for bunion surgery include:

  • Overlapping—If your bunion is pushing your toe so far over that it actually overlaps the adjacent toes, then surgery will be required to straighten it out.
  • Chronic pain—If your bunion is preventing you from carrying out daily activities due to pain and discomfort, surgery may be necessary.
  • Joint stiffness and difficulty walking—A rigid big toe joint can create great difficulty with just walking, stooping, and using stairs.

Some of the types of bunion surgery you may discuss with your foot doctor include:

  • Osteotomy—The surgeon makes a series of small incisions in the bone of the toe to help straighten it out.
  • Arthrodesis—This method involves using small hardware pieces to help fuse the joints together.
  • Arthroplasty resection—The ruined part of the joint is removed and the ends are reshaped. An artificial joint may be inserted.
  • Exostectomy—This involves cutting away the bulging bump on the joint.

Deciding to have bunion surgery is not something to be taken lightly as the recovery period can take many months requiring plenty of rest and physical therapy to slowly get back on your feet.

Enlisting the services of a skilled foot care specialist is essential for a successful surgery. For all of your foot and ankle problems, Bruce B. Zappan, D.P.M., P.C., of Medical Arts Podiatry Associates in Philadelphia, is an expert in proper evaluation and recommendations for treatment. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or make an appointment with our office at 215-563-2560.