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When Do Bunions Require Surgery?

If you’re prone to wearing tight-fitting or ill-fitting shoes, you may be increasing your risk for developing bunions. A bunion is a physical deformity in your big toe that develops gradually when too much pressure is placed on the outer part of your toe.

This deformity can make it difficult for you to wear shoes or walk without discomfort. In some cases, the pain of a bunion can be severe enough to interfere with your normal activities. When bunions become this painful, it may be time to consider surgical intervention.

Dr. Hunter offers both nonsurgical and surgical treatments to address bunions. He also provides guidance to help you prevent the development of new bunions in the future, based on your activities and health history.

Causes of bunions

Too-tight shoes can cause the structure of your big to change and bend toward your second toe. In addition to moving the bones of your big toe, bunions also cause changes in your tendons and toe joint.

While poorly fitted shoes are often the primary cause of bunions, you may be at increased risk for developing this toe deformity for other reasons, such as having:

Bunions are also known to run in families. If you have parents or sibling with bunions, you may also develop them at some point. This is especially true if you don’t take proper care of your feet, which includes wearing comfortable, properly sized shoes.

Common symptoms of bunions

The gradual deformity in your big toe joint can make it difficult to walk normally. Wearing shoes and moving around with an existing bunion can also cause additional foot issues, such as calluses that develop from your toes rubbing together.

Other common symptoms of bunions include:

Typically, bunions start small and can be treated with nonsurgical options to prevent a worsening of the deformity. These options may first include changing the type or size of shoe you wear for everyday use and for higher-impact activities.

You may also find relief from bunion discomfort through using toe spacers or bunion pads, custom orthotic shoe inserts, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories.

However, if the deformity and pain start limiting your ability to stay active or do your job, it may be time to consider surgery.

Considerations for bunion surgery

When a bunion becomes disabling, or you find you can’t control inflammation in the big toe with medications or rest, it may be time to consider your surgical options. Dr. Hunter can review your specific situation to determine if bunion surgery is right for you.

A number of bunion surgical techniques are available depending on the severity of your bunion. For mild deformities, part of the excess bone may be shaved away to allow for the realignment of your ligaments and tendons surrounding the big toe.

Surgery for severe bunions requires the cutting away of the excess bone and a wedge-shaped area of bone on the big toe. To realign the toe bones properly, you may need pins or screws placed in the bone to keep them in the proper position.

Following surgery, you may still need to avoid wearing certain shoes to prevent additional bunion complications. It can take up to six months to fully recover from bunion surgery, depending on the surgical technique used to realign your toe.

To learn more about bunion surgery and find out if it’s the right option for you, schedule a consultation with Dr. Hunter by booking online or calling the office in Plano, Texas.


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