Bunions are those unsightly bumps that form on the inside of your foot at your big toe joint. Many people think that bunions are a bony growth. That may be true for a few people, but for most of us, the bunion represents a dislocation of the big toe. It begins to deviate closer to the second toe. In doing so, it pushes against the skin, forming the bunion.
Causes of Bunions
Why does your big toe do this? The most likely causes are heredity and shoe gear. You can’t do anything about the heredity factor, but you can avoid tight pointy shoes (and high heels). Give yourself plenty of room in the toe box of your shoes, width-wise as well as length.
Bunions may develop rapidly or slowly. They may occur in your teen years or you may develop a bunion later in life. They come in a variety of sizes and severity. Your bunion may be corrected with conservative treatment or you may require surgery.
Symptoms of Bunions
The symptoms of bunions vary greatly. You may have dull and mild pain, or sharp and severe pain. Or you may not have any pain at all. The size of the bunion does not affect the amount of pain you experience – a bigger bunion is not necessarily more painful than a small one. Other symptoms include irritation, redness, warmth, and swelling. You may also develop a callus.
Surgical Treatment of Bunions
The goal of bunion surgery is to realign the joint, correct the deformity, and relieve your pain and discomfort. Surgeons generally accomplish this in one of two ways – with a bone cut (osteotomy) or a bone mending (fusion).
Bone cutting involves surgically breaking the metatarsal bone to realign only a portion of it.
Bone mending realigns the entire deviated bone at its source – where the deviation originates.
Your recovery from bunion surgery will depend on how much bone and soft tissue was affected by your procedure. The recovery period is usually 8 – 10 weeks. Bones heal in about six weeks, you can’t shorten that time. Complete healing may take as long as one year. Approximately 90% of patients stop taking pain medication within 3-5 days after surgery.
In mild to moderate cases, patients are allowed to be weight bearing immediately, with the help of a knee scooter or surgical boot. Your surgical outcome depends largely on you. Follow your surgeon’s instructions to the letter. It’s important to remember that bunion surgery will not change your shoe size! You won’t be able to wear a smaller size. If you return to wearing ill-fitting shoes, your bunion may reappear.