What Is Bunion Surgery?

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A bunion, also known as hallux valgus, is a bony bump that forms at the base of the big toe, at the joint. It is a common foot problem that often develops slowly over time. Bunions can be caused by a variety of factors, such as wearing tight or narrow shoes, foot injuries, or genetic predisposition.

As the bunion grows, the big toe may begin to angle towards the second toe, causing the joint to become stiff and painful. In severe cases, the big toe may even overlap the second toe. Bunions can also lead to other foot problems such as corns, calluses, and hammertoes.

Treatment for bunions can vary depending on the severity of the condition but may include wearing comfortable shoes with a wide toe box, using padding or orthotics (such as specialised socks or sleeves) to cushion the affected area, taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain relief, and in some cases, surgery to remove the bunion. Bunion surgery is an orthopaedic procedure and is also known as a bunionectomy. 

How Can I Prepare For Bunion Surgery?

Before the surgery, talk to your doctor about any other medical conditions you have and medications you are taking. Follow your doctor's instructions on when to stop taking certain medications, such as blood thinners, before the surgery.

Make your home as comfortable and safe as possible. Remove any tripping hazards, and place frequently used items within easy reach. Stock up on supplies you will need during your recovery period, such as ice packs, over-the-counter pain relievers, and any equipment your doctor may recommend, such as crutches or a special shoe. Arrange for someone to drive you home after the surgery, and consider having someone stay with you for a few days to help with daily activities. 

Exercise and strengthen the muscles in your leg and foot to prepare for the surgery and to help with the recovery process. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy before and after the surgery.

What Happens During Bunion Surgery?

The goal of bunion surgery is to realign the bone at the base of the big toe and to restore the normal position of the toe joint.

There are several types of bunion surgery, but the most common procedure involves making an incision near the affected joint and removing the bony bump. The surgeon may also realign the bones, tendons, and ligaments in the foot to correct the deformity. In some cases, small pins, screws, or plates may be used to hold the bones in place while they heal.

Bunion surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis under local anaesthesia, which means that you can go home the same day. 

What Happens After Bunion Surgery?

Recovery time varies depending on the extent of the procedure and your specific circumstances. Your doctor will provide specific instructions based on your individual needs. It is important to attend all scheduled follow-up appointments so that your doctor can monitor your progress and ensure proper healing.

Keep the incision site clean and dry to prevent infection and change the dressing in the way instructed by your care team. 

Inflammation is common after bunion surgery. Elevate your foot above heart level as much as possible to reduce swelling and promote healing and apply ice packs to your foot several times a day, to reduce swelling and pain.

Take any prescribed pain medication as directed by your doctor to manage pain and discomfort. You may need to wear a special shoe or cast to protect your foot and help it heal properly and you will likely have to do physical therapy to help you regain strength, flexibility, and range of motion in your foot after the surgery.

What Are The Risks Of Bunion Surgery?

Bunion surgery involves cutting and realigning bones in the foot, which can result in a painful and challenging recovery process. The risks associated with bunion surgery include possible infections, bleeding, nerve damage, blood clots, and adverse reactions to anaesthesia. Patients may also experience limited mobility, stiffness, or persistent pain in the affected foot after surgery. 

In rare instances, the surgery may not correct the bunion or it may recur over time. There may also be cosmetic concerns related to scarring or changes in the foot's appearance.

Bunion Surgery In Summary

Bunion surgery aims to remove the bunion from the affected toe and relieve associated symptoms such as pain and stiffness. Although non-surgical treatments may be sufficient for mild cases, surgery may be necessary for more severe cases. Preparing for the surgery and following proper aftercare instructions can help ensure a smooth recovery and optimal outcomes.

Patients should consult with their doctor to determine if bunion surgery is the right course of treatment for their condition.

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