What are bunions?
- A bunion, also known as Hallux Valgus, is a painful bony protrusion or bump that can be felt on the side of the big toe joint. This happens when a mal-alignment of the bones at this joint causes your big toe to deviate laterally or move towards your smaller toes. In this way, a bump is formed and, over time, becomes more prominent.
- Because of the bones’ mal-alignment, your joints become more inflamed with motion, resulting in pain, especially as the bump becomes more prominent. That means walking, running, and even putting on your favorite shoes will all be very painful. You can expect redness and swelling at the site due to the joint becoming more inflamed and damaged.
- Corns or calluses can also develop from your big toe and second toe rubbing together. The symptoms can progressively worsen and cause ongoing pain and even limit movement of your big toe. Particular shoes can cause additional pain, especially dress shoes or footgear with a narrow toe box.
Why are bunions a problem?
- Bunions can cause pain while wearing particular shoes or enjoying activities that bring you joy. The malalignment can worsen if left untreated, causing increased pain and limiting your daily living. Bunions can also restrict what types of shoes you wear due to the sizable bony protrusion or bump on the side of the big toe joint. This large bump can rub and create a pressure point in the shoe gear, leading to damage to the shoe and more pain in your foot. Once inflamed, a bunion can be challenging to manage and require surgical intervention.
How do I know if I need bunion surgery?
- Surgical intervention for a bunion truly depends on the severity and limitation it’s causing. Some may have a large bunion, but it is painless and doesn’t limit their everyday life. When the bunion starts to interfere with the things you love to do, defines the type of shoes you wear, and causes pain while standing or getting around, it may be time for surgery to fix the deformity. Also, when conservative treatments aren’t helping, surgery is warranted to restore the function of your foot and allow you to enjoy life.
How has bunion surgery changed? How is minimally invasive surgery recovery different from previous bunion procedures?
- Over 40 different types of bunion surgeries have been developed since bunions started being surgically corrected. Each type of surgery is unique and addresses the pain caused by a bunion. Minimally invasive surgery has been around for decades but recently came back into the limelight after surgeons and companies developed easier and more reproducible techniques to correct the deformity. Advancements in minimally invasive surgery (MIS) offer patients unparalleled success due to its advised stabilization, immediate weight-bearing, quicker recovery, and minimal post-op pain and scarring compared to previous procedures.
- With the MIS technique, there is no need to open the joints, which spares blood supply to the bones and prevents inner and external scar tissue as a traditional bunion surgery. This reduces physical therapy time and less need for painful ROM exercises to break up scar tissue in the big toe joint.
What are the benefits of a minimally invasive bunion surgery?
- The benefits of MIS bunion surgery are genuinely profound and incomparable to other bunion procedures.
- It may allow immediate weight-bearing after surgery in a protective surgical shoe or CAM boot.
- You get to maintain the motion in your big toe joint since the joint isn’t violated during the surgery.
- Small incisions leave almost no scar on the side of your foot.
- Promotes a good healing environment with minimal soft tissue disruption
- Less postoperative pain, swelling, and stiffness.
What type of recovery is typical with bunion surgery?
- The bunion surgery recovery varies depending on the bunion deformity’s severity and the type of bunion surgery performed. On average, bunion surgery can take up to 3 to 6 months to recover after physical therapy. The first 2 to 4 weeks may require you to be non-weight-bearing in a splint, meaning no pressure can be applied to the foot. Then, a patient can be placed in a surgical shoe or CAM walker for four to six weeks before returning to regular shoes.
- On average, for MIS bunion surgeries, patients recover up to 8 weeks faster than open procedures. Most patients can weight-bear the same day in a post-op shoe or CAM boot and start wearing regular shoes by 4 to 6 weeks. This allows the patient to return to driving and other daily activities much sooner.
What are the risks/complications of a bunion surgery?
- There are risks with any surgery, but very low risk when it comes to MIS bunion surgery. Since the surgery doesn’t violate the big toe joint, it prevents inner and external scarring of the joint, which can require extensive rehab to break up the scar tissue. The incisions are very small compared to a traditional approach, leading to a better overall cosmetic appearance with fewer painful scars. Also, there is no fusing of any joint, which can require extensive time off the surgical foot to allow the area to fuse or heal. A joint fusion can lead to a delayed or nonunion, which could require additional surgery.
Are there limitations to who can undergo a minimally invasive bunion surgery?
- There aren’t many limitations to who can undergo a MIS bunion surgery. Most bunion deformities can be surgically corrected with the minimally invasive approach, but some may require a different procedure. After a complete clinical evaluation and x-rays, we can customize the correction specific to the degrees of your bunion deformity.
Will I have screws in my feet with a minimally invasive bunion surgery?
- Screws are necessary to hold the correction in place. Typically, 2 to 3 screws are placed but buried into the bone so they don’t irritate when wearing shoes. This limits and prevents painful hardware irritation in other procedures, leading to additional surgery to remove the plates and screws.
How long has minimally invasive bunion surgery been in practice?
- Minimally invasive bunion surgery has been around for decades, but recent developments in fixation and reproducibility have resurfaced the practice of the procedure. We’ve seen surgical procedures transition from an open traditional to more minimally invasive due to the benefits of less post-op pain, better cosmetic appearance, and faster recovery. Our goal is to get you back to enjoying the activities you love to do.
Is a bunion surgery permanent, or will I need more surgeries?
- Most bunion surgeries are permanent if the proper procedure is performed to correct the specific degree of your bunion deformity. Most bunion deformities can be surgically corrected minimally invasively and with a low re-occurrence of the deformity requiring additional surgery.
Contact us today to learn more about the benefits of minimally invasive bunion surgery and take the first step toward a pain-free future.