Bunion occurs when a buny bump forms at the base of the patients big toe, forming a union with a foot bone called first metatarsal. Patients big toe points extremely toward to their second toe when they have a bunion. This buny bump consists of both bone and soft tissue and can cause high amount of pain. Treatment of this discomfort is called Bunion Removal (also known as bunion surgery, bunionectomy, or hallux valgus correction).
One of the most common causes of a bunion is wearing shoes that are too small or too narrow in the toe area. This can be seen as a pressure-response effect and it’s more common in women. Patients may feel an increase in their daily comfort after the surgery as they may no longer feel pain while wearing shoes.
When to consider a Bunion Removal?
A bunion removal surgery is recommended for patients;
- if the pain restricts their daily routines and activities
- If they can’t walk medium distances without feeling severe pain
- If they can’t bend or straighten their big toe
- and if non-surgical treatments aren’t removing the problems listed above
How is a Bunion Surgery performed?
There are more than a hundred different bunion removal procedures to fix the impairment and non of them is considered to be the best. Bunion removal is a type of surgery that is tailored to patient’s condition and more than one procedure may be done at the same time.
Types of the bunion surgery include;
- Removing the part of the foot that is bulging out. This procedure is called exostectomy or bunionectomy
- Realigning the the tissues around the big to joint
- Making small cuts in the bones of the foot and moving the bones into a more normal position.
- Removing bone from the end of the first metatarsal bone. Both big toe and metatarsal bones are then reshaped.
- Fusing the big toe joint. The surgeon removes the part of the joint so the bones join together, or fuse.
- Fusing the joint where the metatarsal bone joins the mid-foot.
- Implanting all or part of an artificial joint.
Before the Operation
Before patients undergo the bunion removal surgery the surgeon will:
- Take an x-ray of the lungs
- Perform an eloctrocardiogram to check the heart function
- Make a urine and blood test for any underlying illnesses
Patients should also stop taking medications few days before surgery, especially any type of aspirin or any other blood thinning drugs and medications.
Many people won’t need a general anesthesia during the operation, instead patients will get a local anesthetic called an “ankle block” which narcotises patient below the ankle. Patients will remain awake for the surgery unless the surgeon decides for general anesthesia.
Once the patient is completely numb below the ankle, the surgeon will remove the the bunion and make other necessary repairs to the foot. After the surgery patients foot will get bandaged and patient will be taken to recovery room where their blood pressure and heart rate will be monitored as the anesthesia wears of.
Generally an hospital stay isn’t necessary after a bunion removal and patients can go to their homes after a couple of hours.
Post-Operation and Recovery Process
Recovery from the bunion removal operation may take up to six to eight weeks to for to six months for full recovery.
During the first two weeks after the surgery patients will be wearing a cast or surgical boot to protect their foot and they should also avoid getting their stitches wet. After the removal of the cast/boot patients will wear a brace to support their foot. They won’t be able to bear weight on the foot at first and will need crutches for assistance for a while. In time, patients can start pulling some weight on their foot, using a walker or crutches to support.
Patients can use icing their foot and toe to speed the healing process but should avoid using their foot meanwhile. After one or two weeks patients can start driving if it’s necessary.
Patients should expect their foot the be swollen to some degree for a few months after the surgery. They should wear shoes with excess space to minimize the pain they experience and female patients should avoid wearing high heels for at least six months.
Keep in mind that surgeon might send the patient to physical therapy where they’ll learn foot and lower leg strengthening exercises.
The aim of this article is to give you a general information about the surgical intervention in question. You need to make more research about possible complications and risks of this selected procedure in order to make an informed decision. Please note that complications occur more frequently with patients who are obese, smoke, and have a history or lung or other chronic underlying medical conditions.
Smokers are recognized to have a significantly higher risk of post operative wound healing problems with a subsequently higher potential of infection as well as operative and post operative bleeding. Patients should discontinue smoking for two weeks before and two weeks after surgery. Although it helps to stop smoking before and after surgery, this does not completely eliminate the increased risks resulting from long term smoking. Smoking also has a long term adverse effect on the skin and ageing process.