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Bunion surgery generally involves an incision in the
top or side of the big toe joint and the removal or realignment of soft tissue
and bone. This is done to relieve pain and restore normal alignment to the joint. Small wires, screws, or plates may be used to hold the bones in place. There are no guarantees that a bunion surgery will fully
relieve your pain.
There are over 100 surgeries for bunions. Research does not
show which type of surgery is best—surgery needs to be specific to your
condition. More than one procedure may be done at the same time.
The usual recovery period after bunion surgery is 6 weeks to 6
months, depending on the amount of soft tissue and bone affected. Complete
healing may take as long as 1 year.
You may want to consider surgery when:
After surgery, your ability to walk and do other activities is
likely to improve. The big toe joint is generally less painful and, as a
result, moves better. After the incision has healed and the swelling has gone
down, the toe may look more normal than before.
Research does not show which type of surgery is best. A review
of bunion surgeries shows that about 30% of people who have surgery for
bunions are disappointed in the result despite pain being reduced and the toe
being straighter. The reasons are not clear. Some reasons for being
disappointed in the surgery results could be that a person is not able to wear
some types of shoes (such as high heels) after surgery, or that the joint has a
little less motion compared to the other foot.1
Risks of surgery include:
Think about the following when deciding about bunion surgery:
Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.
Ferrari J (2009). Bunions, search date May 2008. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
February 24, 2012
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Gavin W.G. Chalmers, DPM - Podiatry and Podiatric Surgery
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