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Myths about Bunion and Foot Surgery

Bunion is a disorder of the big toe joint causing a boney prominence. Surgery is commonly performed to relieve the bunion pain.  Some people simply avoid bunion surgery because they may have “heard” some false information about the fixing the bunion.

Surgery for bunions is more than just simply cutting the boney protrusion. It also requires that the deviated bone and joint to be realigned. There is a whole range of mild to severe bunion and the surgery has to be individualized based on the case. It takes approximately six weeks for the bones to mend in the corrected position. Bunion surgery, just like any surgery, has its share of myths. One should keep in mind that not all bunions are treated the same, information that may apply to someone with a large bunion may not apply to someone with a small bunion.

Myth #1: Bunion Surgery Is Extremely Painful

Bunion surgery is not “more” painful than other surgeries. Foot surgery, in general, can cause increased pain because the foot is below the level of the heart and blood is pulled to the feet due to gravity, causing a throbbing feeling. Also, the foot does not have much soft tissue surrounding the bones, so moderate swelling can aggravate the nerves, causing pain. Most patients find that the discomfort is tolerable with pain medication, elevation of the foot and in some cases by using an ice pump.

Myth #2: Bunions Return Even After Surgery

Most patients are happy with their outcome after bunion surgery. Recurrence is possible, but unlikely. And, recurrence of a bunion is not necessarily a complication, but just a new bunion forming without any relation to the last bunion.. Some patients have excessive motion in the foot that may predispose them to recurrence or recurrence may be due to ill fitting shoes. Another possible reason for recurrence is because the procedure that was performed did not best suit the severity of the bunion — so it’s important to have the surgery tailored for your particular bunion.

Myth #3: Bunion Surgery Requires Cast and Crutches

This was true a decade ago, but advances in surgical techniques have allowed surgeons to mobilize patients quicker. Mild bunions typically involve walking in a surgical shoe for six weeks. Surgeons consider casting with crutches with larger bunions. A new procedure called the Lapidus Bunionectomy, allows for early protected walking at two weeks following surgery. Recent technological advances in medical implant devices have also helped surgeons modify their techniques to get patients moving quicker.

Myth #4: You Need to Take Time Off Work

Depending of demands of your workplace, this is not completely true. A patient can return to a desk job within a few days of the surgery, and varies based on surgeon protocol and type of bunionectomy performed. Jobs that require excessive walking, standing and physical activity may require time off, up to a few weeks, depending on healing and job requirements.

Myth #5: Don’t Fix A Bunion Unless Painful

The problem with waiting for bunion to become painful is that the bunion may become severe by the time pain appears. The concern with bunion surgery for a non-painful bunion is that the surgery can result in post-operative pain that
may not have been there prior. However, people do have surgery for non-painful bunions if the bunion interferes with normal activity, continues to become larger, or if they have difficulty wearing shoes and/or if the bunion is simply unsightly.

Myth #6: Healing After Bunion Surgery Results In Unsightly Scars

Once again, this was the case a decade ago. Today, incisions can be minimized, or alternate surgical approaches, such as cosmetic foot surgery may be used to hide surgical scars. Bunion incisions are either located on the top of the foot or on the side of the foot, and technique varies based on surgeon.

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