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How to Know When It’s Time for Bunion Surgery

When you suffer from bunions, they don’t just make you uncomfortable in a pair of sandals. Bunions can make it hard to do your daily activities and lead to a significant amount of pain. At Achilles Footcare, with office locations in both Delmont and Monroeville, Pennsylvania, we offer a variety of treatment options for bunions, including traditional surgical methods and cutting-edge procedures like LapiplastyⓇ.

If you have bunions and think surgery may be the best option for your foot, we thoroughly discuss your specific situation and bone structure. There are many things to consider before opting for bunion surgery, and it isn’t an appropriate procedure for all patients.

Determining the cause of your bunion

The root cause of your bunion may influence the risks or benefits of bunion surgery. If bunions run in your family, you may have a hereditary foot defect, which makes the formation of bunions more likely. Most often, this defect is a frontal plane deformity and results in a rotation of the first metatarsal bone (the bottom bone of your big toe).

Wearing ill-fitting shoes or narrow-toed high heels can also lead to bunions, which is one of the reasons women suffer from the joint issue more often than men.

To find the root cause and see the severity of your foot deformity, we may take an X-ray or do blood work to rule out other conditions, such as gout or infection.

Finding the least invasive, yet effective treatment

Before proceeding with bunion surgery of any kind, you should attempt less invasive treatment methods. We offer a wide range of options, starting with finding the right shoes. Orthopedic shoes with a wide toe box that doesn’t crowd your feet can relieve pressure and make moving around less painful. Custom inserts, bunion pads, splints, and spacers can also help.

Cut a hole in an old pair of shoes and wear these around the house. This protects your foot from accidental injuries while keeping any pressure off the irritated joint.

To help with any pain, we recommend using a heating pad or ice packs, when necessary. Warm foot baths may also alleviate discomfort. If needed, use over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to help reduce swelling and aching.

Opting for bunion surgery

Although bunion surgery does eliminate the bony bulge that forms at the base of your toe joint and makes your foot look deformed, it isn’t a cosmetic procedure. The risks of bunion surgery outweigh the benefit of improving your foot’s appearance.

If you’ve tried the less invasive, at-home methods of bunion treatments and still can’t find relief from your bunion pain, it’s time to talk to a foot surgeon. Other instances that require professional bunion care include occasions when bunion pain prevents you from doing daily activities, you don’t feel better with rest, or your bunion shows signs of infection.

Your podiatrist may recommend a bunionectomy, which involves realigning the bone of your big toe and may include cutting ligaments and tendons around your joint. In other cases, they may suggest an osteotomy. This surgical bunion procedure involves cutting your bone and using wires, screws, rods, and metal plates to keep the bones in proper alignment.

If you have a frontal plane deformity, your podiatrist may opt for a bunion surgery with innovative imaging like Lapiplasty. Using 3D imaging, this state-of-the-art surgery corrects abnormal bone rotation and makes bunion formation significantly less likely.

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