1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Bunion Treatment: When to Consider Bunion Surgery

By

Updated October 13, 2009

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: Bunion Treatment: When to Consider Bunion Surgery
Bunions can cause pain and difficulty wearing certain shoes. When simple treatments don't relieve your symptoms, surgery may be considered for treatment of the bunion. What are the signs that surgery may be the right treatment for your bunion?
Answer: In general, surgery is recommended only when pain from the bunion prevents a patient from wearing normal shoes. There is a common misconception that surgical treatments for a bunion are better and quicker than non-surgical treatments. Unfortunately, patients who rush into surgery may have unrealistic expectations, and may be unsatisfied with surgery.

Patients considering bunion surgery should understand the following about surgical treatments of bunions:

  • Bunion Surgery Is Not Cosmetic Surgery
    Bunions may not be pretty, but cosmetic deformity is not a good reason to perform surgery. There are too many potential complications to perform a bunion surgery simply for cosmetic reasons.

  • Patients Must Have Realistic Expectations
    Bunion surgery can be helpful at relieving pain, but patients should not expect to have "normal" feet after surgery. In one study, a leading researcher on foot problems such as bunions, found that 1/3 of his patients could not wear the type of shoe they desired prior to surgery.

  • The Foot Width Change Is Small
    Bunion surgery decreases the width of the forefoot by about 1/8 of an inch. That's not much! That is the reason why even after surgery, most patients will not be wearing slender shoes.
Surgery can be an excellent treatment option for patients with problems from their bunions. That said, patients must understand this is a procedure that has potential complications and a lengthy rehabilitation.

The patients who tend to be unsatisfied with bunion surgery are those patients who are having surgery done to allow them to have normal looking feet or allow them to wear slim shoes. If that sounds like your motivation, think long and hard about surgery. Surgery should be reserved for those patients who have significant pain, and are unable to correct the problem with adaptive footwear.

Sources:

Mann, R. "Disorders of the First Metatarsophalangeal Joint" J. Amer Acad Orthop Surg; Vol 3, No 1 1995; p 34-43.

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Orthopedics
  4. Foot & Ankle
  5. Treatments
  6. Surgical Procedures
  7. When is Bunion Surgery Necessary for Treatment?

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.