With so many rumors about bunions and bunion surgery floating around, it’s hard to separate fact from fiction. Here are some answers to those frequently asked questions (FAQs) about bunions.
What is a bunion?
A bunion is a bump at the base of the big toe. It is actually the bone that starts to stick out. It usually starts small and can get bigger gradually with time.
Where do bunions come from?
Bunions are related to the shape of your foot when you are born. This position of the bones can gradually push the bone of the big toe joint out as you walk.
Does everybody get bunions eventually?
If one or both of your parents or grandparents had bunions, then you are more likely to get one, too. Some people never get bunions. Other people can develop a bunion years after an injury to the big toe joint.
Do all bunions hurt?
Not really. Some people have very large bunions with no pain at all. Others have very small bunions with a lot of pain.
Can you prevent bunions from forming?
If you are prone to getting a bunion, there is no way to completely prevent it from growing, but you can slow the process down dramatically. When you help the foot maintain a better alignment when walking, less pressure is put on the big toe joint which slows how fast bunions grow. The best way to slow bunion growth is with prescription custom orthotics. Custom orthotics help to control the alignment of the foot, reducing pressure on the big toe joint, and slowing how fast the bunion grows.
Do all bunions eventually need surgery?
Not really. Many people go their whole lives without bunion surgery. If you are considering bunion surgery, a good question to ask yourself would be “is this affecting my quality of life?” If the answer is “No,” then you probably don’t need bunion surgery.
My bunion hurts. Do I need surgery?
Some bunions respond well to conservative treatment, such as anti-inflammatory medications, prescription custom orthotics, and changing to shoes that don’t press so hard on the bunion. Bunions that don’t respond to conservative treatment are often treated surgically.
Does my bunion have to hurt to require surgery?
The answer is most often yes, but if you have reduced motion in your big toe joint that is causing destruction of the cartilage in your joint, surgery might be recommended sooner to help prevent a bigger surgery later – such as the need for a joint implant.
Is bunion surgery painful?
Most of our patients do very well. There are a couple of things that affect this.
- Surgical technique
- The type of medicine used during the procedure
- How you take care of your foot after the procedure
- How extensive a procedure was required
We make every effort to keep patients as comfortable as possible after bunion surgery. It is uncommon to hear our patients complaining of a lot of pain after surgery.
Do bunions come back after surgery?
There are actually around 65 different types of bunion surgeries – but only one procedure is the optimal one for you. Your optimal procedure will give you the best long term outcome. The further away you get from the optimal procedure, the more likely the bunion will return with time. There are many reasons why a person might not have the optimal bunion surgery for their foot:
- The procedure required too much healing time which the patient didn’t want to deal with
- The procedure required the patient to wear a cast after the procedure which the patient didn’t want
- The doctor prefers not to do certain procedures for one reason or another
- The patient may not be a good candidate for the optimal procedure
At Hollowbrook Foot Specialists, we honestly feel that bunion surgery should be tried last. We will always attempt conservative options first. And, we will always try to find the optimal solution for you.
We understand that any surgery can cause concern, which is why we spend as much time as you need to answer any questions you may have. We do our best to explain the procedure and process in terms you can understand, so that your experience goes as smoothly as possible.
If you are planning or scheduled for surgery, or if surgery was suggested, we can provide a second opinion so that you can feel confident that you have made the proper decision. Call our office at (845) 298-9074 to contact us today for an immediate appointment.
Serving the Hudson Valley from Wappingers Falls.
By Dr. David Schlam