Do you have a painful bunion? A bunion, or “hallux valgus,” is when your big toe has a bump at the base that protrudes, while the big toe itself pushes in towards the little toes. This common irregularity can cause pain, difficulty with shoe wear, and activity limitation. If you have tried wider shoes, padding, toe spacers, and other treatments but still have pain, you may be a candidate for surgical bunion correction.
Surgical treatment most often involves cutting the bones and repositioning them with metal screws. Many different techniques may be used for bunion correction. Traditionally, bunion surgery can be quite painful with a long recovery. However, a newer, minimally invasive technique that I have been using over the past year and a half has offered amazing advantages to my patients.
Minimally invasive bunion surgery is performed using a burr, instead of a saw, to cut the bone. This allows the cuts to be made “percutaneously,” or through tiny incisions on the foot, instead of the long incisions most often used in traditional techniques. By avoiding large incisions, less soft tissue, such as skin, muscle, and capsule, is disrupted so the foot is less swollen and painful overall. Recovery time is also reduced as patients can start putting weight on their foot right after surgery. I have noticed that my patients who have the minimally invasive technique take less pain medication, have better range of motion of their big toe, and are back in regular shoes in half the time of my patients who undergo the open technique.
Not all patients are candidates for this technique, however. If you have a severe deformity, had prior bunion surgery, or have other toe deformities, you may need a more involved, open procedure. It’s best to speak with your orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon to see which option is right for you.
Dr. A. Holly Johnson specializes in helping people get back to their pre-injury level of activity, whether that is running ultra-marathons, playing collegiate ice hockey, or simply walking for exercise. She treats all orthopedic conditions of the foot and ankle, with a focus on sports-related injuries, Achilles tendon problems and using arthroscopic and minimally invasive techniques for forefoot reconstruction (bunions), foot and ankle trauma, deformity and arthritis.