A bunion is a bony bump that forms between the first and second joint of your big toe. Your big toe points toward your second toe when you have a bunion. The bunion consists of both bone and soft tissue and is classified as a foot deformity.
Bunions can be very painful. Wearing shoes that are too small or too narrow in the toe area is the most common cause of bunions. Women are more likely than men to develop bunions.
Bunion removal is a surgical procedure that corrects a deformed area of the foot near the big toe. Bunion removal is also sometimes called a bunionectomy, bunion surgery, or hallux valgus correction. Hallux valgus is a Latin phrase meaning foot deformity. Bunion removal is necessary when nonsurgical treatment methods do not reduce an individual’s pain.
Choosing Bunion Surgery
Many people get relief from bunion pain by wearing larger shoes with a wider toe-box (for example, athletic shoes instead of ballet flats or high heels). Cushioning bunions with protective pads also help. Those who experience pain even after making these lifestyle adjustments may choose bunion removal surgery as an effective treatment method.
You are most likely an ideal candidate for bunion surgery if:
- your pain restricts or prohibits you from completing everyday routines or activities
- you cannot walk more than a few blocks without severe pain
- your big toe remains swollen and painful even with rest and medication
- you can’t bend or straighten your big toe
Discuss your condition with your doctors so they have complete information about your symptoms and limitations. Your doctor will take X-rays of your foot to diagnose the condition and to determine the kind of surgery needed to correct your specific problem.
More than 100 different types of bunion removal surgery exist to remove the bump and to realign the positioning of the big toe. The type of surgery you need depends on how your bunion developed.
Bunion Surgery Procedure
Most people don’t need a general anesthetic during bunion removal surgery. Instead, you will get a local anesthetic called an ankle block. An ankle block makes sure you are numb below the ankle, but are awake for the surgery. Once you are completely numb, the surgeon will remove the bunion and make other repairs to your foot. Some of the most common types of bunion removal procedures are:
- Osteotomy: the surgeon cuts your big toe joint and realigns it to a normal position
- Exostectomy: the surgeon removes the bunion from the joint without performing alignment
- Arthrodesis: the surgeon replaces the damaged joint with screws or metal plates to correct the deformity
The surgeon will bandage your foot after the surgery and take you to the recovery room. Your blood pressure and heart rate will be monitored as you wait for the anesthesia to wear off. Generally, you are allowed to go home after a couple of hours in recovery.