Bunions are bony lumps that form on the side of the foot where the big toe joins with the foot. A bunion forms when the big toe pushes towards the other toes and the joint of the big toe gets bigger, becoming deformed. This often painful condition can be aggravated by wearing improperly fitting shoes or uncontrolled pronation issues. The joint where the toe bends when walking is also affected by a bunion and it can make walking uncomfortable. The skin and tissue that covers the joint can become swollen and red and calluses often develop on the side of the big toe where a shoe rubs against the enlarged joint.
Bunions are caused by a variety of factors including injury, birth defects, certain types of arthritis, or an inherited foot type. Jobs that require you to stand for prolonged periods of time may also put excess pressure on your foot, causing a bunion to form. Experts disagree on whether or not footwear that is too tight or too narrow can the cause a bunion, though poorly fitting footwear can certainly aggravate the condition causing unnecessary discomfort to patients with bunions.
Based on the evaluation performed by the podiatrist, if the condition is found to be severe and unresponsive to more conservative treatments, the doctor may suggest surgery. The operation is recommended when the patient is impeded from normal activities due to pain caused by the bunion. During the procedure, the surgeon will readjust the bone beneath the big toe by making an incision into the ligaments surrounding the joint. Screws and plates are often used to secure the big toe in place during recovery. The surgeon may also shave away excess bone. Typically, bunion surgery lasts approximately an hour but can take longer, depending on the severity of the bunion. Part of the joint, bone, or some of the soft tissue might be extracted during the operation. In addition, for severe arthritic deformities, the bone may be fused to prevent it from moving back to the incorrect and painful position.