Do Bunions Require Surgery?

Bunions can be a frustrating and painful problem. The presence of this type of inflammation in the feet can interfere with day-to-day life in a major way. If you’ve been living with bunions, you may wonder if you will need surgery to restore a sense of comfort. Dr. Khoury does perform bunion surgery when necessary. Here, though, we will discuss some of the conservative strategies that may be recommended first. 

Bunions 101 

Bunions look like bumps or growths on the side of the foot at the base of the big toe. There is no growth, really, but inflammation in the joint where two bones meet. Inflammation occurs when the bones at the base of the big toe are misaligned. The mismatch in the joint space causes fluid to build up in the bursa, resulting in swelling that only gets worse when pressure is applied to the foot (usually from shoes).

There is some evidence that bunions may be hereditary. This is because the structure and shape of the feet may be similar in families. The risk of bunions increases in situations like flat feet, low arches, and loose joints or tendons. People with an inflammatory condition like rheumatoid arthritis may also develop bunions simply due to high levels of systemic inflammation. Finally, yes, wearing shoes that are too narrow or pointy could increase the risk of bunions. 

Addressing Bunions Without Surgery

Conservative treatments are nearly always recommended before surgery. Options include:

  • Custom orthotics to wear inside of shoes. In the case of bunions, orthotics are customized to align weight on the foot more evenly and to reduce pressure on the affected joint. 
  • Taping, splinting, or padding the foot. These strategies, when done correctly, reduce pressure on the joint and provide opportunity for inflammation to decrease. 
  • Changes in footwear. People with bunions often learn quickly which shoes are more comfortable and which worsen pain. Footwear that does not press on the joint is ideal. 
  • Physical therapy exercises. A physical therapist can prescribe specific exercises to strengthen the foot and improve posture to better disperse weight across the foot.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication may be taken as needed to reduce discomfort. This, however, is a temporary solution. 

Bunion surgery is typically recommended only when absolutely necessary. If you have not achieved the relief you desire from conservative approaches, contact us. In consultation with Dr. Khoury, you can explore the ins and outs of bunion surgery. Call our Passaic, NJ office at (973) 473-6665.