Every step you take seems to be more painful than the last thanks to your bunion. As you writhe in pain, you think to yourself, "Will I have to spend the rest of my life like this?" Fortunately, bunion removal surgery may make it so that you don't have to.
Research-based in the UK shows that bunions occur in more than a third of the population, with women more commonly suffering from them. They may occur due to family history, flat-footedness or even wearing too narrow of a shoe or uncomfortable high heel shoes.
If you're suffering from bunions, you're clearly not alone. But it's not exactly the club you want to be in. If you've tried everything to treat your bunions and nothing works, surgery could be your only option.
Here's a rundown of the signs you may need bunion removal surgery.
Let's get started!
What Exactly are Bunions?
A bunion is a deformity where your big toe points and moves toward your second toe. The tissues surrounding the joint located at your big toe's base may be tender and swollen due to an enlargement of tissue or bone there.
Bunions can make walking painful. In addition, shoes can rub on your bunion, thus leading to sores, calluses, blisters, and pain.
Even more serious is the threat of a bone or skin infection that you can get around your bunion. This is particularly true if you suffer from peripheral arterial disease or diabetes.
Not only can large bunions be physically painful but also they can be emotionally aggravating. If you're not looking forward to sandals weather due to your bunion, this physical deformity is negatively impacting your quality of life.
Foot Products Aren't Working
So, how do you know it's time to undergo bunion removal surgery? When no other more conservative treatments are working.
For instance, to ease your pain, you may be using a variety of products made to help those with bunions. These run the gamut, ranging from toe stretchers to orthotics, gel pads and even toe spacers.
On top of that, maybe you've been wearing wide shoes only. But you're still in so much pain by the end of the day that walking to your automobile after work is excruciating.
If these strategies are only slightly helpful and provide only short-term pain relief, they're not enough. You need a long-term solution, which can be found in bunion removal surgery.
You ideally want a couple of opinions -- and not just your own -- before you move forward with bunion removal surgery.
We recommend getting professional opinions from a minimum of two different doctors if you're thinking about bunion surgery. For instance, an orthopaedic surgeon and a podiatrist may recommend surgery for you.
Why is two the magic number? Because the two doctors may have different approaches to how surgery should be handled in your case.
If you have two options, you get to choose the approach with which you feel the most comfortable -- and the one that seems to have the best prognosis. After all, you don't want a bunion recurrence in the future.
Pain Even with No Movement
Another indicator you may need surgery? Your foot aches even when you're not moving it -- for instance, while you're sleeping (or at least trying to).
Constant pain is especially a telltale sign if you don't spend a lot of time on your feet. For example, you may work a desk job, in which case there's no way your feet should be hurting like it is.
Feeling shooting pain in your foot after walking? This is a major sign you need surgery, as something as simple as walking shouldn't be causing you that much pain.
This is especially true if you're wearing shoes with plenty of room for your toes, as well as supports and pads in your shoes for comfort and protection. Clearly, nothing else is working.
Resting is Not Helpful
To avoid undergoing surgery, you may consider getting a cortisone shot in your bunion instead. Although this might help with swelling, it's only a Band-Aid.
If you find yourself in pain all over again a few weeks later, then it's time for a more long-term solution. No more short-term fixes.
What is Bunion Removal Surgery?
This question has a complex answer, as more than 100 types of surgeries exist for those with bunions. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to bunion surgery, as your treatment must be customised based on your condition.
One option is to have your surgeon remove the bulging part of your foot; this is known as bunionectomy or exostectomy. Another option is for the surgeon to take out bone from the tip of your first metatarsal bone. Then, he or she can reshape your metatarsal bones and big toe.
Will Surgery Work?
The effectiveness of the surgery depends on a wide range of factors, including the severity of your bunion, the version of surgery you have undergone and your doctor's experience.
Note that there's a chance your bunion may come back. Other potential challenges you may face after surgery include a less flexible, stiffer toe as well as some swelling.
You might also notice that the big toe that was operated on now bends upward or outward. Also, don't be surprised if you feel some burning, numbness or tingling in the toe as a result of damage done to your nerves there.
In addition, what you expect from surgery has a major impact on whether you feel it is successful in the end. Are you hoping the surgery will enhance the appearance of your foot? If so, you may end up sorely disappointed.