When Bunions Require Surgery

Oct 01, 2022
When Bunions Require Surgery
Bunions can cause a lot of pain, but often, symptoms feel better with a little medical TLC. However, sometimes surgery is the best option for eliminating pain and improving your mobility. Here’s how to tell when surgery makes sense for you.

Bunions are a relatively common foot problem — and, like a lot of medical issues, they tend to become more common as we get older. About a third of people over age 65 have bunions, along with pain and other symptoms they can cause.

You can treat bunions in the early growth stages with splinting, ice, and other noninvasive options. But there are times when bunion surgery is a better choice for long-lasting symptom relief.

At Performance Foot & Ankle Specialists, LLCJoel S Segalman, FACFAS, FACFAO, and Stephen Lazaroff, DPM, FACFAS, offer bunion surgery. As top-rated podiatrists in Waterbury and Newtown, Connecticut, our practice uses advanced techniques to help women and men relieve their painful symptoms.

 Here’s how to tell if it might be time to consider surgery for your symptomatic bunions.

The basics of bunions

Bunions form when the joint at the base of your big toe drifts outward, causing the top part of your toe to drift inward. As the drift continues, the joint protrudes further from the side of your foot, eventually forming a large, deformed lump that can cause pain when walking and make it hard to find shoes that fit.

You can develop bunions for different reasons. Some people have inherited genes that make bunions more likely. Other possible causes include:

  • Short Achilles tendons
  • Weak tendons or ligaments
  • Calf muscle problems
  • Underlying diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • Flatfeet

Tight-fitting shoes and high heels don’t cause a bunion to form, but they can definitely make a bunion — and its symptoms — worse.

Bunion surgery candidates

We don’t recommend bunion surgery to correct how your foot looks; your bunion has to be causing physical symptoms to be considered a good candidate for surgical treatment. In general, consider surgery when:

  • Your bunion limits your mobility and activity
  • Your bunion is causing significant pain
  • Your toe joint is chronically inflamed
  • Your bunion is causing deformities in other toes
  • A change in shoes doesn’t relieve symptoms
  • Therapy and medication don’t provide symptoms relief

Bunion surgery also typically isn’t recommended to prevent a bunion from getting bigger. Instead, other options, such as a change in footwear or custom orthotics, usually prevent a bunion from progressing.

After surgery, you’ll wear a splint or cast to help the area heal. You’ll also need to use crutches or a cane to prevent putting weight directly on your toe while it heals. 

We recommend therapy, exercises, and gentle stretching to regain mobility and flexibility in and around the toe. These activities will begin once the initial period of healing is complete.

Bunion treatment based on your needs

Not everyone needs bunion surgery. You may benefit from more conservative treatment options if your symptoms are less advanced. During your initial evaluation, we’ll be able to recommend a better approach based on your anatomy, symptoms, and other factors.

Learn more about our bunion treatment options by booking an appointment online or over the phone with our team at Performance Foot & Ankle Specialists today.