A bunion is a bony bump that forms at the joint of the big toe. When the big toe pushes against the next toe, it causes the joint at the base of the big toe to stick out -forming an enlarged bump. The skin over the bunion may become red, swollen, and painful to touch.
Researchers don’t know exactly what causes bunions, but several factors can contribute to their development. Some of the most common causes of bunions include inherited foot structure, wearing narrow shoes, having arthritis or other medical conditions that affect the feet, and foot injuries. Women are also more likely to develop bunions than men.
What Are The Symptoms of Bunions?
Bunions are sore and they make it difficult to walk, particularly when the big toe is confined into tight and ill-fitting shoes. The bony bump can become red and irritated, causing swelling over an area that is already enlarged.
As the bunion grows, it can cause the big toe to angle inwards towards the other toes. This can make it very painful to walk, stand for long periods of time or to find comfortable shoes.
Some people grow corns or calluses on the foot due to the pressure caused by the bunion.
Bunions develop slowly, but if left untreated, they can grow to be painful and severe.
What Happens During Bunion Surgery?
The surgeon will open the skin over the affected joint and carefully move aside the soft tissues and muscles to access the bone. The bony bump at the base of the joint is re,oved and the bones of the foot are re-aligned with screws or pins where necessary. When the removal and realignment are done, the soft tissues and muscles are repositioned and the incision is sutured closed.
The surgery can be performed using general anaesthesia or local anaesthesia with sedation, depending on the patient's preference and the extent of the surgery. The entire procedure usually takes between 30 minutes to an hour. After surgery, the patient will be given pain medication and instructions on how to care for the foot during the recovery period.
Weighing The Benefits And Risks Of Bunion Surgery
Although bunion surgery can provide a range of benefits for people experiencing pain and discomfort, there are risks to consider before deciding to have surgery. Weighing the benefits and risks might help with making the decision.
Benefits Of Bunion Surgery
- Pain relief by correcting bone misalignment and removing the bony bump causing discomfort.
- Improved foot function and mobility for easier walking and physical activity.
- Preventing the bunion from growing and reducing the risk of other foot problems like arthritis and hammertoes.
- Enhanced self-esteem and confidence with the ability to wear more comfortable and fashionable shoes.
- Significant improvement in the quality of life, supporting an active and healthy lifestyle.
Risks Of Bunion Surgery
- Potential complications from the surgery such as infection, bleeding, nerve damage, and blood clots.
- Painful and challenging recovery process.
- Risks of stiffness, limited mobility, or ongoing pain in the affected foot.
- Possibility of unsuccessful bunion correction or recurrence over time.
- Cosmetic concerns related to scarring or changes in foot appearance.
The Cost Of Bunion Surgery
The cost of bunion surgery in the UK varies depending on the type of procedure, the location of the surgery, and the surgeon performing the operation. On average, the cost of bunion surgery in the UK can range from £2,500 to £6,000, with some procedures costing more or less than this range.
Private clinics and hospitals may charge higher fees than National Health Service (NHS) hospitals, and additional costs such as pre-operative consultations, imaging tests, orthotic devices, home preparation, convenience services and follow-up appointments must also be considered in the overall cost.
Is Bunion Surgery Worth It?
Bunion surgery can be life-changing for individuals who are experiencing pain and discomfort due to bunions. However, it's important to be aware of the potential risks and complications associated with the surgery, as well as the cost.