We’d all like our feet to be perfect: smooth skin with no calluses, a neutral arch that absorbs impact properly, and toes that lie straight and flat. The truth is, many of us struggle with dry skin, painful arches, and toe deformities like bunions. Many conservative treatments are tried first, but sometimes bunion surgery is the only option that will really bring relief.
When Your Big Toe Doesn’t Know Its Place
Many experts believe inherited foot structures cause this bump on the side of your foot to form. When your foot rolls inward too much with each step, pressure is placed on the side of your big toe, pushing it out of position towards your other toes. Multiply that by the hundreds or thousands of steps you take each day, and you can see how your toe might forget its place. As the tip moves inward, the joint at the base of your toe is pushed outward, and eventually it stops moving back into the correct position. That is when the bunion becomes visible. There are many other factors that cause bunions, too.
When Conservative Measures Don’t Work
Most of the time, bunions can be prevented, or kept from getting worse, by using non-invasive treatments. These include choosing shoe styles that conform to the shape of your foot; padding, taping, or splinting the toe; icing to reduce swelling and pain; and using custom orthotics, which provide proper support and redistribute the pressure away from the painful toe.
If these methods do not bring relief from the pain or allow you to perform your normal activities, bunion surgery may be needed to correct the problem. Some procedures are used to repair tendons and ligaments that hold the toe in position. If your toe is not drifting over, just the bony bump may be removed. Other times, the bones of the joint are cut and realigned and then pinned or plated in place. In severe cases, the joint may be removed entirely and replaced with a prosthesis.
When You Are Tired of the Pain
You should not have surgery merely for cosmetic purposes. Only consider it if other treatments have failed and your big toe makes it hard to find shoes that fit, or keeps you from even taking a walk around the block. Surgery is a big step, with possible risks of infection or nerve damage, and recovery times that could take up to several months, depending on the procedure.
Because there are so many types of bunion surgery, the experts at Atlantic Foot & Ankle Associates will work with you to determine the best solution for you. We can take digital X-rays right in our office and may do some other tests to make sure you are in good condition for surgery. We will also advise you whether or not to stop any medications you are taking. Surgery is normally done on an outpatient basis, usually with local anesthesia and a sedative, and takes about an hour. After an hour or two of recovery time, you are allowed to go home.
Once you are home, follow our guidelines about dressing care, wearing a surgical boot, and keeping weight off your foot. Also watch for signs of infection like fever, redness, unusual swelling, persistent pain, or drainage near the dressing. As you heal, we will tell you when it is okay to start bearing weight, driving, or walking. We will also advise you about shoe choice and how to reduce swelling. It is best not to wear fashion shoes for at least six months after surgery.
We see—and treat—a lot of bunions, and will help you find a way to be free of debilitating pain. Call Atlantic Foot & Ankle Associates in Florida today: Daytona Beach at (386) 274-3336, Port Orange at (386) 788-6333, Palm Coast at (386) 586-7373, Orange City at (386) 775-2281, and Edgewater at (386) 957-4818.
Photo Credit: nenovbrothers