6 Important Facts You Should Know About Bunionectomy

A bunion is a deformity on the joint located on the side of the great toe due to poorly-fitted footwear or genetics. It is described as the tilting of the big toe towards the second toe and tissues at the base of the big toe become swollen. In some cases, this could escalate to developing bone spurs.

The first signs of bunions include irritation, redness, blisters, and painful swelling in the big toe’s joint area.  Tight shoes and shifting gait to reduce the pain also accelerates the deformity of the feet’s big toe.  The inflammation on the joints is painful and can affect your ability to walk or find comfortable shoes that bunionectomy may be required.

What is bunionectomy?

Bunionectomy is an outpatient surgical procedure to remove bunions to relieve pain, and if possible, restore the alignment of the joints. McBride, Keller and Chevron are the surgical techniques used in removing the growth and the doctor determines the technique to be used base on the degree of deformity, patient’s age and physical condition and if bone repositioning or osteotomy is needed. The surgery may involve straightening the tendons and ligaments that hold the big toe. For advanced cases that require osteotomy, the doctor first examines the patient’s x-ray to get a clear idea of the bone’s deformity. The patient is then given anesthesia for the hour long surgery. Next, an incision is done on the first joint of the big toe where the enlarged lump is removed. After taking the lump, the surgeon has to align the bones of the big toe. This may require cutting the bone or attaching screws or metal plates to keep the joints in place. In severe cases, joint replacement may be needed. After the surgery, the doctors will require a compression dressing around the wound to keep the foot aligned and stop the swelling. They will also monitor the patient’s recovery for a few hours.

What are the aftercare measures for Bunionectomy?

Patients are advised to keep the bandaged area dry during the recovery period. The stitches and pins will be removed days after the surgery. Stitches are usually taken out in one to three weeks while pins may be removed after a month. Also, you will be expected to wear special shoes to avoid exerting too much weight on the operated toe.

What is the recovery period after Bunionectomy?

Patients can resume their normal activity after bunionectomy six weeks to six months after the surgery. However, a full year is needed to fully recover from the operation. Patients may still experience swelling and are required to use special shoes or compression dressing to reduce the pain. Medical attention must be given if patients experience fever, pain, swelling on the calf of the operated foot, warmth on the area around the dressing or blood on the dressing.

What are some considerations before undergoing bunionectomy?

Since bunionectomy involves adjusting the ligaments or cutting small bones in your toe, there is a tendency that you will lose mobility on your big toe. You may also have to reconsider stepping into your old shoes, especially if they are the main cause of the bunions. This means no high heels or tight shoes for you, even at work.

Is bunionectomy risky?

Every kind of medical procedure carries a certain amount of risk. After bunionectomy, patients usually have to look out for infection in the operated area. Swelling and pain may reoccur so doctors will prescribe the necessary medication. Make sure that these medications do not have negative side effects.  Physical deformity can also occur after bunionectomy when the toe bends outward or upward, or when a bone is removed or if a callus develops at the bottom of the foot. Also, since the operation involves pulling ligaments, certain nerves may be affected resulting in numbness or tingling sensation.

How do you avoid having bunionectomy?

Bunions are highly preventable and there are a lot of home remedies that can help you from making it a serious medical condition.

  • Elevate your feet while resting.Improve the blood flow on your feet by soaking it in hot water and giving it a massage.
  • Wear soft, comfortable footwear. You can also use padding in the joint to prevent it from rubbing against the wall of your shoes. If possible, wear slippers at all times.
  • If it is necessary for you to wear shoes, make sure you have one that is a perfect fit for you. Make sure your toe has room to move around and there should be proper arch support. It would help if you buy shoes in the afternoon when your feet are at their biggest.