There are many ways of dealing with bunions such as maintaining a healthy weight, relying on over-the-counter drugs to alleviate the pain, and even using bunions sleeves. However, there are instances where you are left with one option that will put an end to the pain – surgery. As it is the last resort for people suffering from the condition, there are a few things you need to know before finally getting ready to undergo bunion surgery. You might not know it yet, but your doctor will first have to assess whether you are a good candidate for bunion surgery and then choose the type of surgical procedure that is ideal for you.
Are You Qualified?
While all kinds of bunions can be treated surgically, this does not mean that you will have this option at your disposal the moment you walk into a medical center. In fact, most doctors will first suggest other options of treatment before finally resorting to surgery. There are a few factors that they too consider before pushing you for the surgical option. Some of these include:
- The inability to bend your great toe and when you do attempt to do so, the amount of pain increases
- The pain from the bunion makes you incapable of carrying on your daily duties
- Your great toe is constantly swollen and inflamed and hurts when touched
- Pain medications that had been prescribed by a medical doctor have not improved the situation
- Your feet are still uncomfortable despite finding perfectly-fitting shoes
- You are unable to exercise your feet because of the pain from the bunion
- Your great toe is physically attempting to cross over to the smaller toes (due to wearing high heels, for example)
- You do not have arthritis
- You are in good health generally despite the bunions
If you are favored by most of these factors, then it is highly likely that you will be considered for the surgical treatment option.
Types of Bunion Surgeries
Based on the kind of pain you are experiencing and the severity of your condition at the time you sought help, your doctor will have a clear picture of the kind of surgery that will be ideal for your case. There are up to four types of bunion surgeries that a medical doctor may choose. They include:
This type of surgery involves making small incisions in the affected bone on your foot. In turn, it allows him/her to realign the metatarsophalangeal joint correctly. Once this is complete, he/she can then affix the bone with plates or screws which ultimately balances the joint and straightens out the bones.
2. Resection Arthroplasty
This is usually ideal for elderly patients who may be suffering from arthritis or those who have in the past had unsuccessful bunion surgery. Resection arthroplasty ideally involves the removal of only the damaged part of the metatarsophalangeal joint, and this leads to creation of space between your flexible scar joint and the affected bone.
It works by removing the protrusion of the bunion without realigning the bones or correcting the problems experienced by the soft tissues. This makes the exostectomy more of a cosmetic surgical procedure rather than a permanent solution for the problem.
It is the removal of arthritic surfaces of your affected joint. However, unlike the resection arthroplasty procedure, arthrodesis surgery further tackles the problem by securing the joint with plates and screws until the bones are fully healed. Arthrodesis is the most thorough of the procedures and is a preferable choice for severe cases of bunions.
5. Tendon/Ligament Repair
This is not as intrusive as the other types of treatment because it is simply a surgical procedure that seeks to make tissue adjustments in conjunction with bone repair. A tendon/ligament repair surgery thus removes the imbalance on your great toe and forces it to stick to its natural position.
Preparing for the Surgery
Just like with any surgery, it will be essential to see your practitioner for a full physical examination before you are ready for the surgery. Typically, doctors will need to know any medications or supplements you might be taking prior to the surgery, your medical history, and even whether you have ever had your foot x-rayed in the past. There are other things that will also be of interest to them such as your blood and urine samples and they would also want you to undergo procedures like the cardiogram. Further instructions that you will be given after the preliminary checkup will be specific to the kind of surgical treatment the doctor chose for you.
As you may have guessed after reading about resection arthroplasty earlier, there are surgical procedures that end up not working. Your doctor should probably give you a heads up of some of the complications you are likely to experience after the procedure is complete. Some of these complications include:
- Slow healing of the bone despite the proper realignment of the affected bones
- Continued pain even after the surgical procedure with short bursts of increased pain during specific times
- Inflammation on the incision site
- Painful cramps and swelling in the lower leg
- Regrowth of the bunion
- Stiffness of the metatarsophalangeal
You are advised to seek further medical assistance should you experience any of these complications or generally any other complication that has been persistent after the surgery. While most of the pain can be reduced by intake of over-the-counter pain killers, you doctor will prescribe some pain medications after the surgery because it is expected that you will experience some slight discomfort on your foot hours after the surgery.
While surgery is mostly considered as a last resort, it can be also be your first option depending on how severe the bunion is and whether you have at least been doing something to ease the pain. Surgical procedures are ideal when the pain from the bunions becomes unbearable and when previous attempts to ease the condition have failed. However, if you do have bunions, it would be wise to first start with the other non-surgical options.