Bunions come in many shapes and sizes with different underlying causes. What I want patients to know about bunions is they can range from mild to quite severe with drastic deformity. It takes an extensive evaluation of the mobility of the joints, the position of the foot as the patient walks and stands, as well as a radiographic evaluation of specific angles that can become deformed. The reason we check these things is that if we do not treat them correctly then bunions can come back or not heal properly.
I would also like patients to know that because you have a bunion that does not mean that something is innately wrong with you or that you made poor decisions in life. Bunions are most commonly passed through genetics, while poor shoe gear and/or support can worsen their presentation. It is important to take note that if you have a bunion, you likely inherited it from someone and likely passed it on to someone else. This does not mean you need to start throwing darts at your family tree, but it does mean that you should pay attention to your feet and to the feet of your family members.
Bunions are a structural deformity and because of this, we need to address either the outside support and position or the inside. This typically entails custom orthotics or an elective surgical procedure. Unlike teeth, bunion deformities do not correct with an outside brace-like device. Custom orthotics help support the current structure and can help prevent further deformity and pain. A good, wide, supportive shoe that is semi-rigid and cannot fold like a taco or wring out like a towel can also help limit the deforming forces that accentuate a bunion. When those things fail to eliminate or control pain then surgery may be the better option.
When it comes to surgery, our goal is to fix the root problem–which is the bunion–and prevent it from returning. Surgery allows us to correct the poor positioning of your bones and eliminate the causative factors. Joints that move too much or tendons and ligaments that are too loose or too tight might also need to be addressed. The goal on the operating table is to put all these things in the right position and ensure that the foot can heal correctly. To learn more about bunion surgery, view our video library here. While a minimally invasive surgery may be ideal for cosmetics it may not allow for adequate correction of all the problems involved. As podiatric surgeons, we do our best to keep your needs in mind as we plan the procedure with you and ask that you do your best to follow instructions closely. Walking too early or without a protective boot can make you susceptible to loss of correction or even an infection.
At the Next Step Foot and Ankle Clinic, we will do our best to provide you with all available options, our recommended treatment plan, and work with you to select the right plan that suits you and allows you to live your life to its fullest. Bunions may seem to be a difficult condition to treat, but they’re not impossible and we are confident that we can help you restore your healthy lifestyle with comfort.
For more information about bunions and to get a copy of this month’s Patient Newsletter featuring the condition, CLICK HERE.