Unless the underlying causes of bunions are eliminated, they will only worsen over time. In cases of severe discomfort, a surgical procedure known as a bunionectomy may be performed. The amount of the deformity will determine the surgical technique prescribed.
In the case of small bunions, the bothersome bump may only require shaving to repair the soft tissue in the big toe joint. However, bunions that cause severe pain or discomfort usually require more correction than shaving provides.
In the more severe cases, the technique most often recommended is a procedure that involves breaking and then realigning the metatarsal bone to decrease the toe’s angle of deviation. In both procedures, the bones are correctly repositioned and then stabilized with screws, pins, plates, or wires.
Orthopaedic surgeons use many different surgical procedures to treat bunions. The common goal of these procedures is to realign the joint, relieve pain, and correct deformity.
These procedures include:
Repair of the Tendons and Ligaments Around the Big Toe
These tissues may be too tight on one side and too loose on the other, creating an imbalance that causes the big toe to drift toward the others. Often combined with an osteotomy, this procedure shortens the loose tissues and lengthens the tight ones.
Removal of the damaged joint surfaces, followed by the inser
ion of screws, wires, or plates to hold the surfaces together until it heals. Used for patients with severe bunions, severe arthritis, and when other procedures have failed.
Removal of the bump on the toe joint; used only for an enlargement of the bone with no drifting of the big toe. This procedure is seldom used because it rarely corrects the cause of the bunion.
Removal of the damaged portion of the joint, used mainly for patients who are older, have had previous bunion surgery, or have severe arthritis. This creates a flexible “scar” joint.
The surgical cutting and realignment of the joint. Your orthopaedic surgeon will choose the procedure best suited to your condition.
Although this surgery is a relatively simple procedure, the bones and soft tissues involved will usually take approximately three full months to heal. A walking shoe, crutches, or even a wheelchair may be needed to keep weight off the foot during recovery.
When severe bunions occur on both feet, each will require undergoing a separate bunionectomy and recovery period. Having both feet repaired surgically at the same time is strongly discouraged.