What Is a Bunion?
A bunion, otherwise known as hallux valgus, is the most common deformity of the forefoot. Both hereditary and environmental factors may contribute to the condition. The incidence is higher in women (2:1), possibly the result of wearing tightly fitting shoes with a heel or a constricted toe box.
Symptoms of a bunion may include a painful bump at the base of your big toe. The pain may prevent you from completing your daily activities, or may limit certain footwear options. If this is characteristic of your foot, it may be time to ask your doctor about minimally invasive surgery to treat your bunion.
Anatomy of the Forefoot
Hallux valgus is characterized by migration of the big toe towards the little toes. The painful bump noted on the inside of the foot is due to the misalignment of the big toe bones and the joint as these bones start to turn and rotate. The deformity progresses gradually and you may notice symptoms of redness, pain, stiffness, or numbness develop over time.
Traditional Bunion Surgery
Traditional surgical approaches correct the bunion deformity through an open surgical procedure to remove bony overgrowth and realign the joint. Some surgeons suggest that larger incisions may increase pain and prolong recovery, and are associated with more wound complications
Minimally Invasive Surgery and Its Benefits
Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) uses smaller incisions to achieve the same level of deformity correction. This may lead to less soft-tissue damage and less pain, allowing for a faster recovery.1,2 Less visible scarring may also be noted.
During an operation, your doctor will cut and shift the bone over to improve the alignment. The bone may be secured with two headless compression screws to ensure stability. The procedure is performed percutaneously through small incisions in the skin, resulting in overall cosmetic and mechanical improvement of your foot, while maintaining or even improving range of motion at your big toe joint.
What Should I Expect After Surgery?
The goal of a bunion correction procedure is to eliminate your painful bump and correctly align the bones of the big toe to get you back to your daily routine.
Recovery practices after surgery are at the discretion of your doctor. Your surgeon may suggest a period of non-weight-bearing or protected weight-bearing of the toe area immediately after surgery. Oftentimes, a boot or hard shoe may be worn to protect your foot.
You may be allowed to bear weight on your heel in a flat surgical shoe/boot immediately following surgery. Bandages are removed at 1 to 2 weeks. Transition to stiff-soled shoes is usually possible at 4 to 6 weeks. Light exercise (jogging, biking, swimming) is typically permitted at 8 to 10 weeks if there is no pain and X-rays show full bone healing. Finally, your doctor may advise a full return to sports and normal shoe wear (including high heels) at 12 to 16 weeks.
Below are before and after pictures of foot deformity showing excellent durable correction one year after minimally invasive bunion repair