Advances in Bunion Surgery Lead to Faster, Less Painful Recovery

2/19/2015

New Techniques & Custom Surgical Implants Mean Patients Get Back on their Feet Faster

More than one in five adult Americans currently suffer from bunions, and upwards of two-thirds will develop a bunion in their lifetime. For those considering surgery to relieve bunion pain, there is good news from the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) - bunion surgery may not be as bad as you think.

"There is a common misunderstanding among patients considering bunion removal surgery that they won't be able to walk for weeks or months," said Alan R. Catanzariti, DPM, FACFAS, a Pittsburgh-based foot and ankle surgeon and Fellow Member of ACFAS. "The reality is that the surgery has changed dramatically in the last 10 years and recovery time is often four to six weeks."

A bunion, clinically known as a hallux valgus deformity, is visible as a bump on the side of the foot near the base of the big toe and caused by the misalignment of bones in the foot. Bunions begin with the big toe leaning inward toward the second toe. This movement gradually changes the angle of the bones, producing the characteristic bump. As bunions progress, they can become sore, inflamed and increasingly painful, especially if aggravated by tight shoes.

Bunions can often be treated non-surgically with earlier interventions such as wearing shoes with a larger toe box. When bunion pain becomes a daily occurrence or limits a person's ability to enjoy hobbies or perform a job, surgical intervention can return a patient to optimal function. Anyone experiencing pain or discomfort from a bunion should seek care from a foot and ankle surgeon to discuss treatment options.

"Bunion surgeries have been performed for more than 100 years. Techniques used today ensure minimal pain, earlier and improved mobility and decrease the likelihood that a bunion will return later in life," said Luke Cicchinelli, DPM, FACFAS, an Arizona foot and ankle surgeon and Fellow Member of ACFAS. "As long as people are realistic about the shoes they're wearing post-surgery, there is minimal chance that a bunion will return."

Advances in surgery can be attributed to a number of technological advances, including evolution of fixation devices, anesthetic techniques and orthotics, such as custom walking boots. Information being presented at the ACFAS 73rd Annual Scientific Conference, being held this week in Phoenix, shows that the majority of bunion surgery patients are able to walk independently with a surgical shoe or walking boot following surgery and most can achieve full recovery in six weeks.

The ACFAS Annual Scientific Conference brings together more than 1,400 of the nation's leading foot and ankle surgeons to explore cutting edge clinical and practice management topics in foot and ankle care. The conference program features 135 expert presenters delivering a variety of evidence-based presentations to highlight practice-changing techniques and clinical discoveries in podiatric surgical care.

For more information on bunions or other foot and ankle health issues, visit the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons' patient education website at FootHealthFacts.org.

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