Bunion Surgery and What Your Podiatrist Wants You To Know

Bunions are the most common foot problems I see nearly everyday in the my office. They are bony deformities that can affect children, adults and the elderly. Most of the time a painful bunion can be addressed with simple measures, like choosing sensible shoes with a wider toe box, toe spacers to prevent the toes from crowding its neighbor, custom orthotics to support the arch while decreasing motion (and therefore decreasing pain) at the bunion joint, topical or oral pain medications and steroid injections. These will address the pain symptom, but it does not change the fact that the bunion is getting progressively bigger or more painful. That’s when surgery may be necessary.

Here are the top 5 things I’d like patients to know about bunion surgery.

  1. Surgery should be the last resort. Your foot and ankle specialist may be able to offer more conservative options such as building you a custom orthotic that is specific to your foot type and provide immediate relief with steroid injections.
  2. There are risks involved with surgery. Any surgery poses predictable risks such as increased pain, swelling, bruising, infection, stiffness and failure to correct the intended problem, to name a few. These risks increase if you are overweight, older, smoke, have other medical conditions or take immunosuppressants. On occasion, unexpected problems arise and since every person is unique, we simply cannot predict them all. However, the percentage of this happening is low in experienced hands but it is never zero. You should be ready to accept the risks before proceeding with surgery. It is important to have a candid conversation with your foot and ankle specialist to review your risk factors.
  3. There are benefits to surgery. After all, that’s why I do what I do, to help you with your foot pain. Surgery can improve your bunion pain by addressing the structural deformity, so that your toe is straight and can fit into normal shoes without pain.
  4. There are advances that can get you walking sooner. There are several types of bunion surgeries and the recovery time will vary depending on how severe your bunion deformity is. It is best to discuss options with your foot and ankle specialist to have a realistic outcome. For more advanced deformities, a Lapidus surgery (joint fusing) used to mean 6-8 weeks of non-weightbearing. In today’s modern time, I can get you walking at 2 weeks using the Lapiplasty system. Individual results may vary.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Often time patients are just afraid to discuss surgery because they heard of one or two bad experiences from other people, but you may not always hear about the hundreds of good outcomes that do occur. Your surgeon should be able to answer all of your questions and concerns to your satisfaction. You should be the one to determine whether or not surgery is for you. A surgeon should never try to “sell” or push surgery to you, that is a personal decision. I explain this to my patients, that bunion surgery is the easy part. It is the aftercare and being patient with the healing process that is more challenging. I personally feel that a surgeon’s job is to educate and give options, allowing patients to make the final decision.

I look forward to answering any questions you may have about bunion surgery. To schedule your consultation, call Pacific Point Podiatry at 831-288-3400. Serving Santa Cruz, Watsonville and Monterey.


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