The big toe is made up of two joints and a bunion forms when the enlarged joint becomes inflamed due to misalignment of the bones surrounding the joints. The ‘bump’ associated with bunions forms on the joint at the base of your big toe as your bones move out of place.
Are you a good candidate for surgery?
Good candidates for bunionectomy, or bunion correction surgery, are those who:
- Experience significant amounts of pain that limit day-to-day activities such as walking and standing for long periods of time
- Chronic inflammation and swelling that does not improve with medication or rest
- Deformity caused by the bunion pulling the big toe towards the other toes with possible crossover
The goal of a bunionectomy is to realign the joint at the base of the big toe, correct deformity, and eliminate the patient’s pain. As bunions vary in nature, various surgical procedures can be performed to correct them. In most bunion surgeries bone cutting is necessary as is the use of metal pins, screws, and plates to hold the bones in the right position. Below is a list of other forms of treatment.
- Osteotomy – In this procedure, small cuts along the bone are made to realign the joint. The bone is held in place with pins, screws, or even plants to make the bone straight and balanced.
- Arthrodesis – This surgery is offered to those who have severe arthritis, a severe bunion, or those who have previously had unsuccessful bunion correction surgeries before. In this surgery, arthritic joint surfaces are removed and held into place with wires, screws, and plates as the bone heals.
- Exostectomy – Done alone exostectomy does not realign the joint or correct the bunion, instead the doctor shaves down the bone to minimize the appearance of the bunion. It is often performed as part of a larger corrective surgery combined with osteotomy and other soft tissue procedures.
- Resection arthroplasty – This surgery removes the damaged portion of the joint, shortening the overall length of the toe bone. However, due to the smaller size of the toe, walking and other activities can become more difficult.