What’s a Bunion?

Bunions are a common deformity associated with wearing tight, narrow shoes, and high heels. With a bunion, the base of the big toe (metatarsophalangeal joint) gets larger and sticks out. The skin over it may be red and tender. Wearing any type of shoe may be painful.

The Causes and Symptoms of Bunions

Because this joint flexes with every step, the larger the bunion gets, the more it hurts to walk. Bursitis may set in. The big toe may angle toward the second toe, or even move all the way under it. The skin on the bottom of the foot may become thicker and painful. Pressure from the big toe may force the second toe out of alignment, sometimes overlapping the third toe. An advanced bunion may make the patient’s foot look grotesque, and if it gets too severe, it may be difficult to walk. The pain may become chronic and arthritis may develop.

Bunion Pain Relief

While many bunions are treatable without surgery, prevention is always best. To minimize the chance of developing a bunion, always wear shoes that fit comfortably, choosing those that conform to the shape of the feet with wide insteps, broad toes and soft soles. Avoid shoes that are short, tight or sharply pointed, and those with heels higher than 2 1/4 inches. If a bunion is already present, wear shoes that are roomy enough to not put pressure on it. This should relieve most of the pain.

Surgery may be indicated if a bunion has progressed to the point where walking is difficult or pain is experienced despite accommodative shoes. Additionally, if the bunion is causing pain and deformity (such as a claw toe) to the second toe, or if the bunion is not allowing the appropriate weight distribution across the forefoot and causing overload to other parts of the foot, or if there is continued progression of the deformity, further treatment may be necessary.

The surgery itself is complex and requires significant surgical skill to appropriately realign the bone, capsule lining, ligaments, tendons, nerves, and other soft tissues of the foot artfully. Surgery is performed on a same-day basis (no hospital stay) using an ankle-block anesthesia.

Bunion Surgery Recovery

The first few days after surgery can be extremely painful and rest and elevation is essential. In the first few weeks after surgery, pain may persist whenever the foot is placed in a dependent position and thus elevation should be utilized whenever possible. Patients require follow-up every two weeks after surgery for the first six weeks to have the foot re-bandaged in order to maintain the soft tissue correction performed during the surgery. Once the swelling has decreased, a return to shoes can be expected.

The overall recovery is related to the type of bunion procedure necessary but full return to activity, running, and sports may not occur for up to three to four months. Swelling may persist for 6 to 12 months depending upon the amount of correction that was performed. Most patients are able to walk immediately after surgery and are in gym shoes by four weeks after correction.

What is a Bunionnette?

A bunionette or tailor’s bunion is similar to their normal counterpart in that it is a painful swollen lump on the outside of your foot, but it is located near the base of your little toe. There may also be a hard corn and painful bursitis in the same spot. As with a bunion, it may be caused by wearing shoes that are too tight and can be relieved by getting shoes that fit comfortably with a soft upper and a roomy toe box. In cases of persistent pain or severe deformity, surgical correction is possible. The surgical correction is similar to that as described for a regular bunion but in general, the recovery may be quicker as the correction may be less extensive.

Comprehensive Bunion Treatments in Chicagoland

Dr. Vora has written extensively about corrective bunion surgery, revision surgery from previously failed bunion surgery, and different options utilized to cut the bone (osteotomies) during surgery. He is familiar with and effective in utilizing multiple different techniques, performing the most appropriate procedure for each patient to allow for the quickest recovery and maximize outcomes and expectations. Dr. Vora performs this procedure on an outpatient basis and is readily prepared to apply his knowledge to help you, the patient, in any way possible. To schedule a consultation and begin your bunion treatment, please contact Dr. Vora at a location near you and feel free to ask any questions you may have for us.

Modified from the AAOS