Bunions are a painful foot condition involving misalignment of the joint between the forefoot and the big toe. They are extremely common, especially among females. According to the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, 55% of women suffer from them. Pain from bunions can seriously inhibit everyday activities and when left untreated, they become progressively worse. Surgery is highly successful in correcting the condition, but unfortunately many people put it off due to the assumption that bunion surgery recovery will mean months off of their feet. However, this is not always the case. In fact, some newer types of bunion surgery allow you to bear weight on the affected foot the same day as surgery.
Here’s an overview from orthopedic foot surgeon, Stuart Katchis, M.D., a leading provider of bunion correction surgeries in New York, about the various types of bunion procedures and what the recovery process entails.
What types of bunion surgery are available?
There are many types of bunion surgery, and the option that’s right for you will depend upon several factors. Your age and activity level play a role, as do the condition of your bones and connective tissues. The severity of your bunion is also an important factor. While bunion surgery recovery time can be lengthy for some procedures, the goal of newer treatments is to get you back on your feet as soon as possible.
The type of surgery recommended by the physician will depend upon your individual circumstances, but surgery options include:
Re+Line® Bunion Correction System
The Re+Line system is a cutting-edge treatment for moderate to severe bunions. This procedure uses a low-profile tension band compression plate to reposition and stabilize the big toe joint. This device, which Dr. Katchis helped develop, is inserted along the side of the big toe and remains in place. It has a low profile so it can’t be seen or felt, but because it remains in the foot, it reduces the likelihood of the bunion recurring.
The Re+Line procedure also allows for faster bunion surgery recovery than other procedures. While other surgeries may require several weeks of immobility, Re+Line gets you back on your feet right away. There is no bulky cast involved—patients wear a firm-soled postoperative shoe instead. Most people can put weight on the affected foot immediately after surgery. And best of all, most patients are back in shoes within three to four weeks.
Tendon and Ligament Repair
A tendon and ligament repair procedure is generally used for less severe bunions, or in conjunction with other procedures. Chronic misalignment of the joint may lead to damaged connective tissue in the foot. Tendon and ligament repair removes any damaged tissue, then shortens any stretched tissue or lengthens tissue that is tight. This helps realign the joint and keep it in the proper position.
Arthrodesis is a fusing of the joint, and is used primarily in cases of severe bunions when other procedures have failed, or when the joint is damaged by severe arthritis. The joint surfaces are removed and the joint is fused together. Screws, wires, or plates may be inserted to keep the bones stable as they heal. The joint then becomes immobile, but the pain is greatly reduced or even eliminated.
Resection arthroplasty is most often performed on older patients who have had previous bunion surgeries or who have severe arthritis, and who currently have severe bunions. It involves removing the damaged parts of the joint and results in a flexible “scar” joint.
What can I expect after bunion surgery?
Your bunion surgery recovery time depends largely on the type of bunion correction surgery that is performed. While Re+Line gets you back on your feet more quickly, other surgeries may require several weeks of immobility. With all types of bunion surgery, you will typically need to wear a flat and firm postoperative shoe to protect your healing bones. For larger bunions that require more involved procedures, a cast and the use of crutches may be necessary following surgery. Other post-surgery steps commonly advised with any type of bunion surgery include icing and elevating the foot whenever possible in order to reduce inflammation and speed up the healing process.
Like many other conditions, the longer you wait, the more severe bunions may become and the more involved the repair procedure may be. That’s why it is important to seek treatment when you first notice symptoms.
Are you putting off treatment because of fear about a lengthy bunion surgery recovery?
If you’re living with the pain of bunions because you’re afraid of a long recovery time, we urge you to schedule a consultation to learn about your treatment options. Many patients are great candidates for Re+Line, which means you can get rid of your bunions without the lengthy recovery period.
Schedule your appointment at Extend Orthopedics today to speak with Dr. Katchis about your options. We look forward to helping you get back on your feet.