Bunions & Bunionettes

Graphic representing how to identify bunions & bunionettes in the feet

Bunions are a common complaint in our office and an often-misunderstood condition. Many years ago, bunions were hard to treat and required a lengthy hospital stay. A bunion is an unsightly, protruding bony bump at the base of the big toe, where the large toe angles to the smaller toes. The skin over the bunion can become swollen, irritated, and/or infected due to irritation from shoes. Bunions can be associated with bursitis or arthritic changes in the joint, and may also exist along with hammertoes.

Bunions are a result of heredity, foot type and muscular imbalance, and shoe gear. Although the role of shoes in the development of bunions is still not completely understood, it is well known that shoes will aggravate a bunion or make a bunion that did not hurt, suddenly become painful. In addition, trauma, arthritis, and certain neurological conditions can cause bunions.

There are several treatment options that will treat the symptoms of a painful bunion. Some of these treatments include round-toe shoes, molded shoes, paddings, splints, shoe inserts, injections, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medications. However, these treatments will not get rid of the bunion. If a bunion is not painful, it does not need to be treated.

Surgical intervention is the only method of getting rid of a bunion. There are multiple corrective procedures available. The best surgical procedure for each individual case is based on an assessment of the severity of the deformity, the amount of arthritic/degenerative changes present, the age of the patient, the patient’s activity level, and a thorough evaluation of X-rays and special angular measurements. The procedures involve the removal of the painful bump, realignment of the large toe, and straightening/realignment of the 1st metatarsal bone. Patients may require the insertion of pins, screws, or wire to aid the bone in healing and to maintain correct postoperative alignment. A tailor’s bunion is a small bunion at the base of the little toe. This condition is also known as a Bunionette. The same methods of conservative and surgical treatment of Bunions are performed for Tailor’s Bunions.

Bunions and bunionettes are progressive deformities and, if painful, will probably continually worsen over time. Surgery is performed on an outpatient basis at a hospital or surgical center. The surgery is usually performed under local anesthesia, with some sedation. Surgery performed as an outpatient provides patients with high-quality medical care, without the inconvenience, complications, and expense of an overnight hospital stay.

At our office, the decision to have surgery is always left to the patient. With proper explanation, our patient will understand his/her foot problem allowing intelligent, informed decisions to be made. At our office, patients are encouraged to ask questions. If you would like more information, please speak to the doctor or staff.

For evaluation, confirming diagnosis, and treatment options, make an appointment with Dr. Novabilski