Hallux Valgus, a.k.a. the bunion, is a very common foot deformity that involves the subluxation of the first metatarsal, the bone right behind your big toe. While genetics plays a huge role in the development of this condition, lifestyle choices like footwear preferences may either cause or worsen the existing condition. Women are much more likely to develop this painful condition than men, with African American women representing those most likely to develop this abnormality. Fortunately, patients have many options to consider when planning bunion surgery. Let's take a look.
Why have a bunion surgery
People who choose to have a bunion surgery have three primary goals:
- Relieve pain
- Realign the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint, which aligns the big toe with the foot
- Correct the abnormality that is causing the MTP joint to grow irregularly
Dr. Vincent or Dr. Maurer help you achieve these goals in several primary ways. No two people's bunions are exactly alike, so your doctor reviews radiographic images to determine what the best courses of action will be, and, because bunions are so complex, often your surgeon does several small procedures at once to correct the bunion and get you back comfortably on your feet. Procedures fall into three primary categories.
1. Cut and removal
Your doctor may recommend removal of part of the bone. Which part he removes depends on the type and severity of the bunion. In the case of a minor bunion, your doctor can make small cuts in the bone that allow him to move the bones into a better, more comfortable position. If the bunion is more extreme, he may remove the metatarsal head at the base of your big toe, or he could remove bone at the end of the first metatarsal bone that connects to the joint before having both the toe and the metatarsal reshaped and aligned. In some cases, your doctor at Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine may recommend the lesser procedure because it's less invasive, less costly, and recovery time is shorter — but you may risk needing a more extensive surgery down the road. Your doctor discusses this risk-versus-reward scenario during your visit.
Your doctor might also recommend a joint or bone fusion to stop the progression of your bunion and ease tension on the toe joint. A bunion fusion can take place in two primary areas of the foot:
- The big toe joint
- Further down where the metatarsal meets midfoot
Which fusion the doctor indicates for your bunion depends on where the abnormality occurs. Is it further down the foot? Then the second option benefits you more.
3. Artificial joint implant
As a final main option, your doctor may suggest the implantation of an artificial joint, which is similar to having your knee or hip joint replaced, but on a much smaller scale. During the procedure, small pieces of bone and any bone spurs may be removed to prepare the area for the new joint. If you also have arthritis in your toe, this may be a good option for you as this procedure reduces arthritis pain while improving your toe's range of motion. In order for a joint implant to be an option, however, your doctor at Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine also needs to correct any misalignment during the surgery or the implant will fail.
In the case of any of these procedures, you need to stay off your feet for three or more weeks, so it's important to make plans with your employer, family, and friends to help ensure that you don't put weight on the foot until your doctor says you can safely do so. Failing to stay off your feet can cause serious complications.
Types of bunion surgeries
Your doctor helps you evaluate the various types of bunion surgeries to determine which is right for you. If you're living with painful bunions, know that you have options and your doctor can help you meet your goals. Book online today.