At Parkside Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Centre, we have a team of foot and ankle specialists. If you develop bony lumps called bunions on the side of your feet, our experts can perform surgery to relieve your pain.
What are bunions?
A bunion is a hard, painful lump that appears on the outside of your big toe. The medical name for a bunion is hallux valgus.
Bunions develop slowly over time when pressure is put on the big toe joint. Eventually, the pressure pushes the bones in the front part of your foot out of place. The big toe then points towards your other toes rather than straight ahead. This makes the joint at the bottom of your big toe stick outwards. You get a bony bump on the side of your foot.
Your shoes are likely to rub against the bunion. The skin in this area may become hard, red or swollen (inflamed). You may find it difficult to find shoes that fit and have pain at the side or bottom of your feet.
What causes bunions?
The exact cause of bunions is unknown, but these things may increase your risk of getting them:
• Unsuitable shoes: Wearing shoes that are too tight, narrow, pointed or high-heeled can force your toes into an unnatural position. This may mean that you are more likely to get bunions or make them worse.
• Inherited foot structure: You may inherit a foot shape and structure that increases the risk of bunions. Having low arches, flat feet or loose joints and tendons (tissue that connects muscles to bones) makes the condition more likely.
• Foot injuries or conditions: Bunions may be associated with foot injuries or joint conditions that cause inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Bunions are more common in women, older people and anyone whose job involves a lot of standing or walking, such as hairdressers and nurses.
How are bunions diagnosed?
If there are painful lumps on the side of your feet, you can have an assessment at Parkside Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Centre. A foot and ankle specialist asks about your symptoms, examines your feet and watches how you walk. Your specialist can easily identify bunions from the appearance of your big toe, but also arranges X-rays.
Our Diagnostic Imaging Suite performs high quality, digital X-rays in a calm and comfortable environment. The position of your foot bones changes when you sit or stand. We take X-rays while you are standing to see the changes in your feet and whether you have any arthritis. This helps us to decide the best way of treating the bunions.
Can bunions be treated without surgery?
Having surgery is the only way to get rid of bunions, but non-surgical options can help to ease the pain. They include:
• Wide shoes: Wearing wide, well-fitting shoes with a low heel give your toes more room. It also prevents your shoes from rubbing against the bunion.
• Padding: Your specialist may recommend that you put small pads over the bunion when you wear shoes to reduce the pain.
• Moulded insoles (orthotics) in your shoes and other devices: Your specialist may arrange for you to wear moulded insoles in your shoes. They are called orthotic devices and help to spread the pressure more evenly over your feet. You can also wear toe spacers or a toe support (splint) at night to put your big toe in a straighter position.
• Medicines: Your specialist may prescribe anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce the swelling and pain in your feet.
• Ice: Putting an ice pack on the bunion for up to five minutes at a time can relieve soreness and swelling. Your specialist may not recommend this if you have reduced feeling or circulation (blood flow) problems in your feet.
How are bunions treated with surgery?
Bunions can only be corrected permanently by having an operation. If non-surgical treatment does not ease the pain and this affects your daily life, you may need surgery.
As bunions vary in shape and size, there are many different procedures to treat them. Your foot and ankle surgeon considers your X-ray results, age, activity level and general health. They then discuss which procedure suits you best.
The most common type of operation to treat bunions is called a metatarsal osteotomy. ‘Metatarsal’ refers to your foot bones. You usually have a general anaesthetic. This means that you are asleep during the procedure and do not feel any pain. Sometimes you have a local anaesthetic instead. In this case, you stay awake but your foot is made numb.
At Parkside Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Centre, we have four modern operating theatres. Your surgeon makes a small cut in the skin over your big toe. They repair the soft tissue around your big toe joint and remove the bunion. The surgeon then cuts and repositions your first toe bone (metatarsal) to help straighten it.
Your surgeon fixes the straightened toe bone in place with small metal screws, wires or staples. These are normally left in your foot. The surgeon closes the cuts with stitches and puts your foot in a bandage or plaster cast to protect it.
What happens after bunion surgery?
Most people can go home on the same day as their procedure. We have a £2.7 million refurbished Day Unit, where you recover in modern and comfortable surroundings. Our expert team are here to look after and support you.
You may need some pain relief after your operation. Before you leave the hospital, our pharmacy gives you a supply of any painkillers that you need to take at home. We explain how to look after your foot and when it is safe to return to work and other activities.
For one week after bunion surgery, you need to keep your leg raised when resting. This allows the swelling to settle. You will be in a plaster cast or restrictive dressing for up to six weeks. We often give you crutches or a walking frame to use temporarily. After about eight weeks, we may replace the plaster cast with a removable boot. You can then start to put weight on your foot.
It can take six to nine months to recover fully from bunion surgery. Physiotherapy is an important part of your recovery. Our physiotherapists recommend exercises to restore the range of movement in your foot. They also offer various treatments to reduce any pain.
There is a very high success rate for bunion surgery. The procedure should help to straighten your big toe, relieve discomfort and make it more comfortable to wear shoes.
If you have painful bunions and need surgery, Parkside Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Centre provides first-class independent healthcare.
We offer all-inclusive price packages for bunion surgery (a metatarsal osteotomy). These packages start from £3,970 to remove bunions on one foot and £5,530 to remove bunions on both feet. Terms and conditions apply. For more information about prices, please call 020 3925 1062.
To make an appointment at Parkside Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Centre, please call 020 3944 0568 or complete this form online . Appointments are available six days a week.
Bunion Surgery Consultants