A bunion (also known as Hallux Valgus) is a deformity of the big toe. Your big toe starts to point inwards towards the other toes, and you may notice a bony lump beginning to form on the inside of your foot at the base of the big toe.
Surgery is available to correct bunion deformities when they become painful and to straighten the big toe. As a doctor who specialises in treating foot and ankle problems, I've seen first-hand the difference bunion removal surgery has made to the lives of countless people. I would love to help you too.
A bunion can form for a number of reasons. They tend to run in families, although I always tell people that this doesn't mean their children will definitely have them as well. They are also more common in women than men.
Shoes that fit poorly, or that squeeze the toes unnaturally, can increase the chance of developing a bunion, as can wearing high heels.
When a bunion develops, our shoes can begin to rub against our foot at the point the bunion is growing out to the side, causing pain and discomfort. The smaller toes can also start to deform as they come under increasing pressure themselves.
Each foot contains 26 bones. A deformity or problem in just one of these bones may mean that extra pressure is placed on other bones to compensate. This can cause pain under the ball of your foot, normally noticed more when walking or weight-bearing.
You may also be at a greater risk of developing arthritis in the joint, which will cause more pain.
The good news is that just because you have a bunion, you won't necessarily need to have surgery. Many people with bunions are able to reduce pain sufficiently by wearing wide, well-fitting shoes and avoiding high heels. Small pads placed on the bunion can relieve the pressure, which helps to reduce the pain.
However, some people will find that these options don't help them as much as they would like. This is the point I would talk to you about surgery, discussing the benefits, potential risks and what you can expect your treatment to be like.
Bunion surgery is a "catch all" term as there are actually a number of different surgical options available to treat bunions. While the non-surgical options described above can often help relieve the symptoms, the only way to get rid of a bunion is with surgery.
The exact surgery I carry out will be decided based upon a range of factors, including the size and shape of your bunion. I'll talk through the operation beforehand so that you know exactly what will be done. The important thing to know is that any bunion surgery I carry out will be aimed at correcting the deformity in your big toe and giving you a narrower foot once again.
The surgery will be carried out under general anaesthetic, and is a day-case procedure, meaning you'll be able to go home afterwards. During the surgery, I'll make two small cuts, one on the side of your big toe, the other over the top of the foot. I'll then cut the long bone at the base of your big toe as much as is needed and move it across to correct the bunion deformity. One / two small screws will be used to fix it in position. Additional bone cuts may be required to reduce the deformity.
As with any operation, it will take time for your to fully recover. You will be allowed to walk on the heel of the operated foot immediately after surgery in a specialised sandal. However, I always emphasise the importance of rest and of elevating your foot as much as possible for the first few weeks to help minimise swelling. It can take a couple of months for any swelling to go fully down.
From talking with many patients over my years as a specialist foot and ankle surgeon, I know just how frustrating and painful a bunion can be. For such a small part of the foot, it can often have a surprisingly big impact on our ability to walk, to move and to take part in our everyday activities and sports.
In the early stages of a bunion, your pain may be tolerable and easy to ignore it. As it becomes more pronounced and the pain increases, expert advice and treatment can be a real benefit.
If you're at the stage of looking for help, it is very easy to arrange to see me at Circle. My private secretary will be delighted to schedule a time that's convenient for you. When we meet, I'll talk about your symptoms with you and will examine your foot. Once I've thoroughly assessed your bunion and the problems it is giving you, I'll talk with you about the most suitable treatment options, so that you can decide what would be best for you.