Patients come to Fixing Feet Institute for an assortment of medical issues that need professional treatment. Sports injuries, heel pain, and diabetic foot care are struggles for many of our patients, but we also have a lot who come in seeking care for bunions. These common toe deformities can cause pain and discomfort, and take away your enjoyment of favorite activities. Our goal is to provide bunion treatment that addresses existing symptoms and prevents the condition from worsening.
Many people have the misconception that bunions only happen to older individuals or are caused by women’s footwear. If you spend a little time researching these toe deformities, though, you will find that they are quite common, even for younger people. It’s estimated that approximately one-fourth of individuals aged 18-65 have developed a bunion. That number is closer to one-third for those over the age of 65.
The most obvious symptom of a bunion is the bony bump located on the inner edge of the foot, right at the base of the toe. Additionally, there is often redness, swelling, and soreness around the affected joint. The skin at the base of the toe is usually thickened, and there is a greater risk corns or calluses – especially where the big and second toes overlap. Due to the wayward joint, movement of the big toe can be restricted and accompanied by pain.
Bunion treatments can be either conservative or surgical in nature. When we use conservative bunion care, the goal is to stop the progression of the condition and relieve symptoms caused by the toe deformity. Conservative treatment options are always preferred, and the sooner you seek treatment the better.
Conservative treatment options for bunion treatment can include:
- Shoe choices
- Bunion pads
- Custom orthotics
Our treatment plan for your bunion will likely be centered first on using nonsurgical care, and seeing if it is able to properly address the issue for you. We normally reserve bunion surgery for cases in which the deformity is causing tremendous pain or discomfort, and other options have proven to not provide the desired results.
Surgical intervention is sometimes necessary to maintain mobility in the joint and relieve intense discomfort. Depending on the nature of your bunion, our team will determine the best procedure to address the condition. The goals of surgery are to reposition the toe, eliminate the bump, and address any joint and/or tendon issues that are present.
When it comes to bunion surgery, our approach may vary depending on the circumstances:
- Bunions are often caused by ligament imbalances that pull the big toe out of alignment. Often, those ligaments can be rebalanced by tightening or loosening them as needed. This procedure is normally performed alongside another (particularly osteotomies), but it can also be used by itself.
- If you discover the problem after the bump develops, but before the big toe starts to drift inward, we may recommend an exostectomy (also known as a bunionectomy). We will remove the enlarged portion of metatarsal head, but other bones are not cut or realigned.
- If the bunion is further in its progression, and there is increased drifting of the big toe, we may use an osteotomy. In this procedure, we cut and realign bones into their natural position.
- Older and arthritic patients might benefit most from a procedure known as resection arthroplasty. We remove portions of the damaged metatarsal head and reshape and resurface the joint to allow normal function.
- In severe cases, we may use a fusion procedure. This entails using wires and screws, and it means the fused joint will no longer be able to bend as it used to. Most people can adapt to this rather quickly, though.
If you would like additional information on bunion treatment, or you need to request an appointment, give Fixing Feet Institute a call at (623) 584-5556. Our staff will be glad to answer any questions you might have or schedule your appointment for you.