If you’re reading this blog, chances are pretty high that you’ve had a noticeable bunion on at least one of your feet for a while now.
Once upon a time, that bump was a lot smaller than it is today. You could ignore it, more or less. Sure, it didn’t look so great, but it wasn’t necessarily getting in the way of your day-to-day activities.
Maybe that toe feels a little stiffer than it used to. Maybe it’s harder to comfortably wear a pair of shoes. Perhaps you’ve noticed a little more pain during activities, or even had corns, calluses, or blisters start to develop.
In short, your bunion is getting harder to ignore.
Is it finally time for surgery?
Maybe. But we need a little more information first.
Surgery Can Be a Great Option—But Only When It’s Truly Necessary
We’ll start with the bad news.
Number one: bunions do not get better on their own, and they will not go away with any kind of conservative treatment. The only way that bump is going away for good is with surgery.
Number two: bunions tend to get worse over time, even if you’re careful. Once a bunion has developed, you can often slow the rate of progression with conservative care, but you might not be able to stop it. Eventually, this might make surgery inevitable.
This does not mean your bunion needs surgery right now, or that you should just get it over with. By contrast, we always encourage our patients to exhaust conservative treatment options first.
Although this will not correct or fix the alignment of your feet, early intervention and conservative treatments can keep your feet mobile and pain free for as long as possible. Common methods can include:
- Switching to more flexible shoes with a deeper shoe box
- Using pads and cushions to reduce pressure on the bump
- Using functional orthotics to reduce abnormal foot motion, which destabilizes the joint at the base of the bunion
Contrary to popular belief, simply shaving existing calluses is not an effective treatment. The calluses form due to friction and pressure. Thinning them will not remove the source of the friction.
Unfortunately, most people do ultimately reach a point where conservative treatments are no longer working and surgery is likely the best option.
How Will I Know When It’s Time?
Since bunion surgery is an elective procedure (rather than a medical emergency), determining when “it’s time” is a judgment call that you’ll have to make in consultation with your podiatric surgeon.
Generally speaking, the following signs would likely cause us to recommend a surgical fix:
- You’ve been experiencing pain in your feet for a long period of time—usually at least one year.
- You’ve tried all applicable conservative treatment options and they haven’t worked, or are no longer working.
- Your bunion is getting in the way of normal, everyday activities.
- Your bunion is preventing you from engaging in specific activities that are important to you due to pain or lack of mobility.
Once we’ve determined that surgery is necessary, the next step is setting a date and making sure you’re prepared for it.
What do we mean by that?
Well, remember that any surgery will come with specific needs for post-operative recovery and rehab. And a foot surgery will place some restrictions on your mobility for a time.
We will teach you how to keep weight on your heel and modify your gait pattern so that you can continue to go about your day as best as possible. But it’s critical that you keep weight away from the surgical site and follow rehab instructions carefully, especially within the critical first two weeks of recovery. By far the most common cause of bunion surgery complications is patients not following their directions within the first two weeks.
As a result, we encourage you to do all you can to make the transition as smooth and easy as possible.
If you have some time off from work saved up, use it.
If you have friends and family members who can be available in those first few weeks to help you with daily tasks, ask them for assistance.
Stock up as much as possible on food and supplies so you don’t have to go out and get them during your recovery period.
Consider setting up a sleeping area and moving daily essentials to the ground floor so you don’t have to go up and down stairs as frequently.
Planning for these things ahead of time will make your recovery process smoother, decrease your daily stress, and help you achieve the best possible end result from your surgery.
If your bunion is starting to cause more discomfort and stress in your life, please give Dr. Scudday a call today. Whether you need surgery or not, we’ll help guide you through an effective treatment plan to get you back to doing what you love most—without pain.
To schedule, please contact the El Paso office most convenient for your location:
- Curie Drive: (915) 533-5151
- George Dieter Drive: (915) 856-3331