Myths About Bunion Surgery

A bunion is a structural deformity where your big toe drifts toward the 2nd toe and a lump gradually develops on the inside of your foot near the base of the big toe.  This leaves you with two potential areas of irritation: 1. the bump can rub against shoes causing pain; and 2. the joint falling out of position causes wear and tear on the cartilage, which is painful deep inside the joint.  Surgery is often recommended when altering shoes, inserts, and anti-inflammatory medications have failed to alleviate your pain.  Many patients come with pre-conceived notions regarding bunion surgery based on rumors they have heard.  Let’s discuss some of the more common rumors and get to the truth.


The bunion returns over time:

There are many different approaches to surgically correct a bunion.  Remember, feet are like snowflakes, no two are alike.  If your mother had bunion surgery it does not mean you will have the same procedure to fix your bunion.  A thorough exam of your foot sitting, standing, and  walking is necessary with x-rays to determine the best possible surgical procedure to correct your bunion.  No one wants to see your bunion return.  If the appropriate procedure is selected, it is unlikely that your bunion will return.  Often I hear of patients and physicians making a compromise in the selected procedure to allow you to walk earlier than otherwise would be allowed with the more appropriate procedure.  Don’t fall into this trap!  At Desert Foot Surgeons, we discuss options based upon what is best for correcting your deformity given your lifestyle and goals.  If you are not able to recover from the best possible surgery to correct your bunion, We often recommend that you wait.  It is much more difficult to correct a failed bunion surgery than it is to do it right the first time.

You will have pins sticking out of your foot after bunion surgery:

Deformity correction involves surgically cutting bones to improve their position.  In order for bone to heal it must be held in place with no motion.  Pins were used initially, but technology has improved.  Cutting edge technology used at Desert Foot Surgeons, means you will not have pins sticking out of your foot after bunion surgery.  Options range from screws and plates to absorbable pins and screws.  As always in my practice, you will be part of the discussion regarding what type of fixation is used.  If you have specific requirements or desires, these will be addressed.

Bunion surgery is the most painful surgery ever:

Let’s put this in perspective.  You have a bone that is out of position.  In order to place that bone in corrected position, I need to surgically break the bone and hold it together with plates and screws.  There is not a lot of space available for swelling in the foot so when your foot does swell there is pressure on the nerves and this results in pain.  Less swelling equals less pain.  When you have bunion surgery with Desert Foot Surgeons, you will be given a detailed plan for recovering from your surgery.  Part of this plan is to keep your foot elevated above your heart and ways to use ice to minimize swelling.  Studies have shown that bunion surgery is no more painful than other surgeries, but pain is very individual; what hurts one person is hardly a nuisance to another.  Part of your recovery plan will involve a discussion of what works best for you to alleviate pain.  This will be incorporated into your game plan after surgery.

There are many rumors about bunion surgery.  Here I have addressed just a few of the more common ones.  It never hurts to get an opinion.  At Desert Foot Surgeons, you will never be pressured into surgery.  Often I spend more time talking patients out of surgery when expectations don’t meet reality.  If you can’t talk to your surgeon, should you really allow them to cut on you?  I welcome you to come and have your bunion examined sitting, standing, and walking to see what the best plan would be for you.