What is a bunion?
Often times when people imagine a bunion, they picture a bump at the base of the big toe. However, our Cypress orthopedist knows that a bunion is not simply a bump. It is a malalignment of the great toe and the first metatarsal bone. Primarily, a bunion is the result of either:
- Improper shoe wear
This malalignment creates the appearance of a bump on the side of the foot. This bump may also be partially due to the formation of a bursa, or fluid-filled sac, which forms near the base of the great toe. Other conditions, including arthritis of the great toe, may mimic the appearance of a bunion.
How is a bunion treated?
Our Cypress orthopedist suggests two treatment options for bunions, including shoe wear modifications and surgery. The first-line treatment option is shoe wear modifications to avoid pressure of the bony prominence created by a bunion and to prevent further deformity. Modifications include the following:
- Proper fitting shoes. Shoes are not meant to fit like a glove. There should be a thumb’s width of space between the end of the foot and the end of the shoe. Just as important is the width of the shoe. When trying on shoes remove the existing insole and step on it. If your foot splays out wider than the insole, the shoe is not wide enough for you.
- Avoid high heels. High heels increase the pressure on the forefoot, which can exacerbate the discomfort of a bunion. Additionally, they often have a narrow toe box, which may also cause discomfort and even worsen the deformity.
- Avoid slip-on shoes. Shoes that do not have laces, straps or buckles to hold the shoe in place are made to fit snug around the end of the foot. This will put pressure on the bunion and may cause discomfort.
Should shoe wear modifications fail to relieve the discomfort, surgery may be considered.
What does bunion surgery entail?
There are dozens of procedures to correct a bunion deformity. But they are generally more involved than simply removing the bump, or medial eminence. Most bunion procedures involve creating breaks in the bones of your first metatarsal and great toe, aligning the bones to straighten out the toe and keeping everything in place with screws. Our Cypress orthopedist also shaves off the bump during the procedure.
After surgery, patients must remain non-weightbearing for a period of time, often at least four weeks. Full recovery may take nine to 12 months, although most people return to full activity by about four months from the time of surgery. For these reasons, it is not a procedure to be taken lightly. The pros and cons should be considered before investing the significant amount of time needed for recovery.
Contact our Cypress orthopedist for an appointment to learn more about bunions.
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