The big toe is made up of two joints. A bunion forms when the enlarged joint becomes inflamed due to misalignment of the bones surrounding the joints. The ‘bump’ associated with bunions forms on the joint at the base of your big toe as your bones move out of place.

Successful bunion surgery can realign bone, balance ligaments and tendons and increase the level of functionality of the big toe joint thereby improving the overall health of the foot. Bunion surgery is usually performed as an outpatient procedure in either an ambulatory care center or a hospital outpatient facility. Bunions can also be performed in an office setting in a designated procedure room.

In some cases, patients can find relief without surgery. Although this will not remove the bunion, it can help keep it from worsening as well as reduce pain and inflammation. However, sometimes these types of treatments are not enough to alleviate your symptoms and surgery may be required.

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Are you a good candidate for surgery?

Good candidates for bunion correction surgery, are those who:

  • Experience pain that limits day-to-day activities such as walking and standing for long periods of time
  • Experience chronic inflammation, swelling and redness over the enlarged bunion joint that does not improve with medication or rest

Experience other deformities as a result of the big toe leaning toward the other toes such as hammertoes neuromas, metatarsalgia and callus on the ball of the foot or corns on top of the toes.

Bunion Corrective Surgery

The goal of bunion correction surgery is to realign the joint at the base of the big toe, correct the deformity and eliminate pain making it easier to walk and exercise and wear shoes comfortably. As bunions vary in severity, there are different ways to correct them.  In fact, there are over 100 different bunion correction surgical procedures.  Most bunion surgery involves cutting bone and using screws, pins or plates to hold the bones in the correct position.  Dr. Geldwert has invented and patented a surgical device that does not require cutting bone to correct a bunion deformity. That surgical device is awaiting FDA approval.

Below is a list of common of categories of bunion surgery.

  • Osteotomy– In this procedure, small cuts along the bone are made to realign the joint. The bone is held in place with pins, screws, or even plates to make the bone straight and balanced.
  • Arthrodesis– This surgery is offered to those who have severe arthritis, a severe bunion, or those who have previously had unsuccessful bunion correction surgeries before. In this surgery, arthritic joint surfaces are removed and held into place with wires, screws and plates as the bone heals.
  • Exostectomy– Done alone, exostectomy does not realign the joint or correct the bunion. Instead, the doctor shaves down the bone to minimize the appearance of the bunion. It is often performed as part of a larger corrective surgery combined with osteotomy and other soft tissue procedures.
  • Resection arthroplasty– This surgery removes the damaged portion of the joint, shortening the overall length of the toe bone. However, due to the smaller size of the toe, walking and other activities can become more difficult.

Before deciding the right treatment option for you, Dr.Geldwert will perform a medical evaluation to identify if you are a good surgical candidate taking into account such factors as the severity of the bunion, age, medications, medical history and activity level.

With all surgeries, there are risks and bunion surgery is no exception. The risks include scars, incomplete correction, nerve injury, restricted movement at the joint, failure to heal fully, inability to relieve pain, reoccurrence of the bunion, development of arthritis, painful permanent hardware, and difficulty healing.

The time necessary to recover from bunion surgery is variable and depends on the procedure performed, the patient’s adherence to the post-surgical protocol and the patient’s inherent ability to heal. Walking aids like crutches and walkers are usually not necessary however a protective boot or foot wear is recommended in most instances.

Bunions can be successfully treated with surgery. Don’t let your bunion keep you back from a normal active life.