Our goal is to provide effective care for any foot or ankle condition with the use of conservative treatment methods, but sometimes a surgical procedure is the necessary course of action. This might certainly be the case for a troublesome bunion that causes severe pain or impacts your ability to perform normal tasks. The most common procedure is a bunionectomy, and understanding everything it entails can help you make the right decision about whether it is best for you.
A bunion is a common toe deformity that develops when the bones that make up the metatarsophalangeal joint (MTPJ)—the joint at the base of the toe—become unaligned. This creates a protrusion on the inside edge of the foot that can cause pain, increase the risk of corns and calluses, and even affect foot function. When this happens, our staff will try a variety of nonsurgical treatment methods to help the condition. If those do not prove to be effective, we will discuss bunion surgery.
Surgical Procedures for Bunions
In most cases, a surgery for bunions is a matter of creating an incision and then realigning or removing bone or soft tissue. It is performed with the goals of restoring normal alignment to the affected joint and relieving pain and discomfort. This may entail the use of screws, plates, or small wires to hold the bones in their proper position.
Types of bunion surgeries include:
- Removing the bulging protrusion (the metatarsal head). This procedure is the most common and is known as either an exostectomy or a bunionectomy.
- Realigning the ligaments and soft tissues around the affected MTPJ.
- Using an osteotomy—small cuts are made in bone tissue—to guide bones into a normal position.
- Reshaping both the metatarsal and big toe bones in a procedure known as resection arthroplasty.
- Arthrodesis, which is fusing the big toe joint together.
- Fusing the mid-foot joint of the metatarsal bone (Lapidus procedure).
- Inserting implants for part or all of an artificial joint.
As you can see, bunion surgery can be complicated, so you want a surgeon who has had some experience with these methods of correcting a misaligned joint.
The recovery process after surgery for bunions can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months, depending on the patient and the specific procedure used. Complete healing in the area can take up to a year. During this time period, it is important to adhere to our recovery instructions. These may include:
- Keeping your stitches dry and covering the foot while you shower or bathe.
- Having the stitches removed sometime between the first and third weeks following the surgery.
- Coming in to have pins removed around the third or fourth week.
- Wearing and using any special equipment we prescribe or issue, including splints, wooden or special shoes, and walking casts.
- Avoiding weight-bearing activities for 6 to 8 weeks after the procedure. We may also instruct an additional couple of weeks of limited weight-bearing on the affected foot.
Expert Bunion Care for the Greater Austin, TX Community
At Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists, we are committed to continually exceeding your expectations when it comes to foot and ankle care, including surgery. Our team is ready to handle your bunionectomy with the expert care and precision you have come to expect from us. Contact us today if you are living with a difficult bunion and we will provide the treatment you need. Call us at (512) 328-8900 or schedule your appointment with our Austin, TX office online.