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What is a Bunion?

A bunion is a bony growth between the first and second joints of the big toe. The big toe gets pushed toward the other toes. Bunions deform the feet and usually cause discomfort or pain. Wearing shoes may be quite uncomfortable.

Bunions are hereditary, caused by wearing high heels or narrow shoes, or if you have arthritis. Women are more likely to suffer from bunions than males. Bunions can be very painful.

What is a Bunionectomy?

A bunionectomy is a surgical procedure where an incision on the big toe is done to relieve the pain and restore normal alignment to the joint. The bones are held in place with the help of screws, plates and wires.

There are a lot of types of bunion surgeries:

  • Arthrodesis (fusion) of the big toe joint
  • Fusion of the joint where the metatarsal bone joins the mid-foot
  • Osteotomy
  • Realignment of the ligaments around the joints of the big toe
  • Removal of part of the metatarsal head
  • Implant insertion of all or part of an artificial joint

Research has not shown which type of surgery is the best. It all depends from your surgeon, and what type they think suits your condition best. Regional anesthesia is usually used.

What are the risks of the surgery?

Like any other surgery, bunionectomy also has its own risks. The risks of this kind of surgery are:

  • Allergic reactions and side effects from the anesthesia
  • Infection
  • Recurrence of the bunion
  • A shorter big toe if bone is removed
  • Persistent pain and swelling
  • The development of a callus
  • Stiffness of the joint
  • Damage of the nerves
  • Damage of the tendons

What to expect after surgery?

The recovery time varies depending on the type of problem you had, what type of surgery was performed, and the amount of soft tissue and bone affected. The recovery time tends to vary from six weeks to six months, but in some cases it can be longer than a year.

The wound should be dry so don't have a shower or bath until the stitches are removed. The stitches are removed between one and three weeks after the surgery.

Be very careful during the recovery period.

Don't push yourself too hard and don't try to walk, exercise or wear shoes before you are ready. This can lead to even bigger problems.

In some cases it can take up to three or four months before you can wear regular shoes again.

Bunions may return after surgery, especially if you continue to wear narrow or high-heeled shoes.

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