What to Expect from Bunion Surgery

What to Expect from Bunion SurgeryIt’s true: no one looks forward to surgery. Sure, if it’s an emergency you’d rather go under the knife than face the alternative, but fear of the unknown can often cause people to put off elective surgeries—such as bunion surgery—they desperately need. We’ve seen patients walk into our doors after living with debilitating bunion pain for years.

Although we always pursue non-invasive options first—laser therapy, physical therapy, shoe modifications, orthotics, etc.—the truth is, sometimes surgery is the only way for you to live, walk, and work pain-free again. Although it can be scary, we really believe that the benefits will be more than worth it.

Why Choose Bunion Surgery?

Surgery is typically selected if pain remains significant and your quality of life is adversely affected even after exhausting non-invasive options. Some common reasons for choosing surgery include:

  • You’re having trouble just putting on a pair of shoes, let alone walking, running, or participating in daily activities.
  • Pain and swelling doesn’t go away, even after rest, ice, or medication.
  • Stiffness is preventing you from bending or flexing the affected toe.
  • Technologies such as shoe modifications, padding, or orthotics have failed to halt symptoms.

What Types of Bunion Surgery Are There, and What Do They Entail?

There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all care, and that applies to bunion surgery, too. Bunions come in many shapes and sizes, so Dr. Danciger will select a procedure that is right for your specific circumstance. Common surgeries include:

  • Osteotomy. In this procedure, the misaligned bones are cut and realigned into their proper location.
  • Tendon and ligament repair. Often combined with osteotomy, this procedure tightens lose tendons and ligaments while lengthening tight ones, rebalancing the forces pulling your toe out of alignment.
  • Exostectomy, also known as a bunionectomy. This also involves the cutting of bone, although unlike osteotomy only the protruding portion of the metatarsal head is removed. This procedure is more commonly used when the big toe hasn’t started drifting yet.
  • Resectional arthroplasty. Often a good choice for older patients or those with arthritis, arthroplasty surgery removes the damaged portion of a joint. It may be resurfaced or even replaced with an artificial joint.
  • Arthrodesis. Typically only used in severe cases or when other procedures have failed, arthrodesis involves removing the damaged joint surfaces and fusing affected bones together using plates, wires, or screws (which may later be removed).

What about Post-Surgery Recovery?

Proper recovery from bunion surgery does take time, though the precise duration will depend on the type of procedure selected, your age and health condition, and how closely you follow all post-operative instructions.

Full recovery can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months on average, and most procedures will involve a period of at least a few weeks where you will have limited weight bearing, or you won’t be able to put weight on your feet.  It may take some time for you to be able to wear normal shoes. It’s possible we may need to set you up with a cast, walking boot, splint, or other device for a time. That said, it’s a small price to pay for lasting pain relief, and in most cases, if you follow all post-operative instructions carefully, you’ll be back on your feet before you know it.

Is Bunion Surgery Right for You?

Only an expert can make that determination for you, but the good news is that bunion surgery is highly successful, with the vast majority of patients reporting significant improvements in their quality of life.

Don’t keep living with stubborn bunion pain—seek out expert help from Palm Desert’s Harvey Danciger, DPM. In many cases, you may not need surgery at all, but even if you do, he will carefully consider all your symptoms and needs and choose the procedure that gives you the best chance at living pain free. Give our office a call at (760) 568 – 0108 or contact us online to set up an appointment today.

Photo credit: Stock Photo via freedigitalphotos.net 

Dr. Harvey Danciger
Dr. Harvey Danciger is a podiatrist and foot surgeon in Palm Desert, CA specializing in the foot and ankle