Our hope at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists is that we will be able to treat your foot or ankle with the use of conservative methods. When we look at a condition such as bunions, we may be able to provide symptom relief with nonsurgical methods, but the only way to truly correct them is with surgical procedures.
If surgery is necessary, you can take comfort in the fact that we are not only expert foot and ankle surgeons, but we will also help to ensure a smooth bunionectomy recovery so you can resume your favorite activities. This can often be achieved by wearing a toe rehabilitation device like the Dynasplint® System to speed up your recovery process and restore your range of motion in the big toe.
Explaining a Bunionectomy
The enlargement of the main joint of the big toe is comprised of both bone and soft tissue. Many times pain can be resolved through nonsurgical bunion treatment, but some patients will need to have a bunionectomy to find relief from the pain and correct the deformity. These are the main reasons for bunion surgery; however, cosmetic surgical procedures are becoming more common. Joint realignment may also be a part of any surgical intervention. Several types of procedures are available, including:
- Osteotomy. This procedure involves cutting the bone and realigning the joint to a more normal position.
- Tendon and ligament repair. In some patients, deformity of the big toe may occur because the tension of tendons and ligaments attached to the toe is unequal, causing more pressure to be exerted on one side of the toe joint than on the other. This inequality can cause the toe to become misshapen. Repairing these ligaments to balance pressure and tension can help remove the bunion deformity and eliminate pain. This procedure may be combined with an osteotomy.
- Arthrodesis. In arthrodesis, the damaged joint surfaces are removed and screws, wires or plates are used to hold joints together during healing. This procedure is generally reserved for patients with severe bunions or arthritis, or when other procedures have not succeeded.
- Resection arthroplasty. In a resection arthroplasty, the damaged portion of the joint is removed or “resected.” Usually, this procedure is reserved for patients with arthritis, those who are older, and those who have had previous surgery to correct the deformity.
Most patients report a dramatic improvement in pain levels and joint alignment in the big toe following surgery. There can be a loss of range of motion in the big toe, though, due to shortening of the soft tissue. In order to regain movement of the toe, a patient may need to wear a dynamic splint in order to provide a gradual and constant stretch to the soft tissue. When patient use extension and flexion Dynasplint® Systems, for example, the toe’s connective tissue will be lengthened over 2-3 months and he or she will be able to return to normal daily activities and footwear.
After surgery, and for the weeks during the healing process, we will monitor your toe to ensure the joint is healing properly. Immediately after surgery, a surgical shoe or air cast will be worn for a minimum of two weeks. Once surgical sutures are removed, a brace or splint will be prescribed to help keep the toe in proper alignment while it heals.
Upon completion of the surgical procedure, most patients will need to manipulate the toe or use dynamic splinting to help regain range of motion for ambulation without pain. Some patients may need to undergo physical therapy in conjunction with dynamic splinting to regain full range of motion and strength.
Expert Bunionectomy Procedures in the Greater Austin Area
Our professionals here at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists will provide the care you need for your painful toe problem. It is our hope that conservative care will be effective, but we are well-qualified should you need surgery to correct the condition and find the relief you need. Call us at (512) 328-8900 for more information.