Podiatrist Toronto, ON Sheldon H. Nadal D.P.M.
586 Eglinton Avenue E. Suite 501 Toronto, Ontario M4P1P2
Local: 416-486-9917 Toll free: (877) 456-3338

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What is Bunion Surgery and Is It Necessary?

What is Bunion Surgery and Is It Necessary?

Bunions are bony bumps that form at the base of the big toe, meeting with the foot’s first metatarsal bone. The bump causes the big toe to point towards the second toe and can be very painful. If you have bunions, your podiatrist may recommend bunion surgery.

What is Bunion Surgery?

Bunion surgery is performed to reduce the pain associated with bunions and correct the deformity it causes. Depending on the bunion’s type and seriousness, the foot surgeon will undertake one of the following types of bunion surgery: 

  • Ligament and tendon repair
  • Osteotomy
  • Arthrodesis
  • Exostectomy
  • Resection arthroplasty

All types of bunion surgery are considered reconstructive surgery as they aim to repair or reconstruct a deformity. The best outcome from bunion surgery is a reconstructed toe joint that realigns the big toe with the rest of the toes, little to no pain, and the ability to move the toe as before or better.

When Should You Choose Bunion Surgery?

Not everyone who has bunions can or should undergo bunion surgery. Here are some of the factors that would make you an ideal candidate for bunion foot surgery:

  • Pain: If you have excruciating bunion pain.
  • Immobility: You cannot walk for any more than a few meters without sitting and resting.
  • Swelling: Your big toe is always swollen, even after resting and taking medication.
  • Stiffness: Your big toe cannot bend or straighten.

If you have any of these symptoms, it may be time to discuss bunion surgery with your podiatrist.

What Should You Expect During Bunion Surgery?

Bunion surgery is typically conducted with a local anesthetic, with general anesthesia only rarely used. Your doctor will administer an ankle block, which numbs your foot from the ankle down. During the procedure, they will reconstruct your big toe joint to remove the bunion. They may also perform other foot surgery procedures to fix any other issues you may have and had discussed before the procedure. Once complete, the surgeon will bandage your foot and allow you to go home.

What are Bunion Surgery Alternatives?

Sometimes, after evaluating your bunion, your foot doctor may recommend alternative bunion treatments. If the bunion is not advanced, here are some alternatives they may recommend:

  • Shoes with a wide toe area
  • Avoiding high-heeled shoes
  • A splint or tape to immobilize the toe in the right position
  • Shoe inserts or bunion pads to reduce the pain and discomfort
  • Ice to reduce inflammation
  • Pain-relief medication
  • Physical therapy like ultrasound therapy and specialized exercises
  • Cortisone injections to reduce inflammation and pain
  • Toe spacers between the big toe and the second toe.

Is Bunion Surgery Necessary?

Going back to the main question, is bunion surgery necessary? The answer is yes, but only for advanced cases. When bunions are advanced, getting quick and effective relief can only be achieved through surgery. However, if your bunion is just starting to develop, you can avoid bunion surgery by practicing healthy foot habits.

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