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Bunions

What is a Bunion?

A Bunion is a bump that develops at the joint of the big toe. They are painful and develop slowly over time. They develop due to pressure on the big toe joint causing the big toe to lean toward the second toe. After a period of time, this causes the bone structure to change making it painful to walk or wear shoes. The medical name for a bunion is Hallux Valgus. Bunions occur more often in women due to wearing tight shoes that squeeze the toes together, and if left untreated, symptoms can worsen over time.

bunions

Symptoms of a Bunion

Symptoms primarily include a swollen bump on the outside of your foot, next to the big toe. This bump will cause the toe to point inwards. This can cause swelling and pain in and around the big toe made worse by applying pressure on it. The skin around the bunion may also be hard and red, with soreness causing difficulty when putting on shoes.

Prevention of a Bunion

To prevent bunion injuries, it is important to keep track of the shape of your feet over time to look out for any noticeable changes. Aim to wear shoes that fit properly and that don’t squeeze your toes together or avoid wearing pointed toe shoes. You can also strengthen your feet by exercising them, by picking up small objects with your toes, or doing toe stretches.

Risk factors of a Bunion

Some of the main risk factors for getting a Bunion include:

  • Footwear type: with narrow or pointed footwear causing residual damage over time
  • Genetic disposition: if someone in your close family has had problems with Bunions, it is a sign you should be proactive in preventing them
  • Age: Bunions are more common in people aged between 40-50
  • Foot type: having flat feet or Egyptian foot can make you more likely to have a Bunion

Why might Bunion Surgery be needed?

Bunion surgery will remove or realign the bone sticking out on your big toe called a bunion. Bunions can become very painful and make daily life difficult for those with a bunion. There are bunion treatments that don’t involve surgery including medications to help reduce pain and swelling, bunion pads, insoles in shoes, a splint to keep your toe straight and making alterations to your shoes.
Whilst these may help reduce the pain your bunion causes, they won’t stop your bunion from becoming even more painful over time. Removing the bunion may be the best option for long term success.

doctor touching bunions

What are the risks with Bunion Surgery?

As with any surgery, there are complications that can occur during or after bunion surgery including:

  • A stiff toe or numb toe
  • An abnormal toe position from the healing process
  • Slow healing process
  • An infection
  • Pain under the ball of your foot due to change in weight distribution
  • A reoccurring bunion
  • Your consultant orthopaedic surgeon will talk to you about any risk to surgery beforehand and help with any concerns you may have.

How to prepare for Bunion Surgery

Your consultant will provide you with all the relevant information before your procedure along with any preparation you may need to do in the days leading up to your surgery. It is important to tell your consultant about any medicines you may be taking, including any over the counter pain medicines such as paracetamol or aspirin.

Do not eat or drink 6 hours before you are due to have surgery otherwise your surgery may be delayed. Also ensure you have a companion available to take you home after you leave OneWelbeck Orthopaedics. It is a good idea to prepare for your surgery before you come in to OneWelbeck Orthopaedics including giving yourself more space by moving furniture and ensuring you have enough food, so you don’t have to go shopping immediately. It is advisable to have some extra help after the first few days after your surgery to give yourself the best chance to heal.

What will happen during my surgery?

An anaesthetist will discuss with you the type of anaesthetic used and the process they will follow so you don’t feel anything. You will be given the opportunity to ask any questions and raise any concerns you may have.
Bunion surgery usually takes less than an hour and there are various types of bunion surgeries depending on the size of the bunion and shape of your foot. Your surgeon will make an incision into the skin over the bunion and remove some bone before re-aligning it to make the side of your foot look straighter. Screws or wires may be used to ensure everything is kept in place and are usually permanent unless your surgeon decides to remove them later.

What happens after Bunion Surgery?

After your operation, you will be watched by your dedicated nurse at OneWelbeck Orthopaedics for the few hours after your surgery. Your foot will be bandaged, and you may have a splint or cast to keep your foot in the right position.

Once you have seen your Consultant you will be able to go home the same day. You may be given crutches to help you walk for the first few days after your operation, and if needed you can take over-the-counter painkillers if you are in any pain.

Make sure you follow any advice given to you by your consultant orthopaedic surgeon including any advice on pain relief, wound dressing and any exercises you may be given.

Treatment Options

Bunion surgery either removes or realigns the bone sticking out on your big toe. Non-surgical treatments do exist including medication, bunion pads, insoles and splints.

Get In Touch

To speak with a specialist about Bunions, contact our team today.
We are available from Monday to Friday: 8am – 8pm.

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Information For GPs

If you are a GP and would like to refer a patient, ask a question or enquire about our education events, please visit our dedicated GP page, by clicking here.