When Do Bunions Require Surgery?

Bunions are more than just painful and inconvenient. They can put stress on other areas of your feet, leading to further issues and pain. If you’ve noticed a red, swollen knot at the base of your big toe, getting your bunion diagnosed and treated early on can reduce your symptoms and prevent further foot conditions from manifesting. 

FootCare Specialist, Inc., in San Mateo and Half Moon Bay, California, provides treatment for a number of podiatric conditions, including bunions. Every case of bunions is different, which is why you need an experienced podiatrist to treat your case individually. Dr. David J. Kaplan can assess your unique situation, diagnose the underlying cause, and provide a treatment plan designed for you. 

How bunions affect your feet 

Bunions typically form when your foot doesn’t displace weight properly. Flat feet, high arches, unstable joints, and improper footwear (like ill-fitting high heels and pointy shoes) can all increase your chances of developing bunions. This is because your toes can’t lie straight, and your weight is distributed abnormally across your foot. 

This is an annoying, painful issue on its own, but bunions can become a bigger problem as time goes on. They cause an obvious deformity in the big toe, which can put pressure on neighboring toes and force them into abnormal positions. As a result, bunions can lead to a variety of other foot injuries, including:

While blisters, corns, and sores might seem like small problems, they can be dangerous for those with diabetes or peripheral arterial disease. They can also cause serious pain and discomfort, especially while wearing shoes or trying to walk. 

Hammertoe and bursitis often manifest as comorbid conditions to bunions, and they can be equally painful and debilitating as bunions themselves. Hammertoe and mallet toe occur when the middle joint of your toe becomes stuck in an abnormal position, while bursitis can cause inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs that cushion your bones. 

Conservative treatments for bunions 

Before seeking treatment for bunions, it’s important to understand that no two cases are the same. Treating bunions isn’t as simple as getting surgery or receiving a one-size-fits-all treatment. Your podiatrist should diagnose the cause of your bunions and attempt conservative treatments to start. 

First, Dr. Kaplan evaluates the severity of your bunion and checks for other conditions, like hammertoe or arthritis. From there, he can build a treatment plan that caters to your needs. These treatments might include: 

These conservative methods can help reduce pain, improve how you walk and stand, and reduce your chances of developing additional conditions like hammertoe, metatarsalgia, and bursitis. 

When surgery is necessary 

If your bunion is severe, resisting treatment, or making it impossibly painful to walk, surgery might be necessary. A bunionectomy can help remove the bunion, realign your big toe, or even replace the damaged joint. 

Dr. Kaplan has specialized experience in minimally-invasive procedures that can have you up and walking the same day. To learn more about bunion surgery and determine what treatment is right for you, schedule a consultation by calling the location closest to you or requesting an appointment online today. 

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