A common belief is that a bunion is caused by an overgrowth of bone that can be shaved off. But actually a bunion is a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe. It occurs when some of the bones in the front part of your foot move out of place. This causes the tip of your big toe to get pulled toward the smaller toes and forces the joint at the base of your big toe to stick out. However, a majority of bunions are a misalignment in three dimensions caused by an unstable joint in the foot.
There are nonsurgical treatments the doctors might try first. Changing your shoes to something roomier with more space for your toes. Bunion pads or cushions can act as a buffer between your foot and a shoe to ease pain. Over the counter medications such as Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium can help control the pain of a bunion as can Cortisone injects administered by your doctor. And some shoe inserts can help distribute the weight of you foot better to alleviate pain and prevent the bunion from getting worse. But sometimes the conservative treatment options aren’t enough.
Surgery becomes necessary when the pain is frequent and/or the bunion begins to have a significant impact on your daily life. Traditionally, the corrective surgery for bunion is known as a metatarsal osteotomy or bunionectomy. There are multiple techniques, but all involve cutting the bones and repositioning them with metal screws to straighten the big toe and reduce the bump on the side of the foot. This type of correction may only address the cosmetic aspects of the bunion and may relieve the pain but if it doesn’t address the root cause up to 70% of them recur over time. Additionally, many of these techniques can keep you off your feet for 7-9 weeks during recovery.
Our doctors, however, are three of four doctors in Fort Wayne who are trained in Lapiplasty. This method of bunion correction addresses the three dimensional nature of most bunions as well as the root cause. With Lapiplasty, the bone is rotated back into it’s proper alignment and the unstable joint that initially caused the bone to move out of place is secured with titanium plates. This procedure has seen shown to show a long-term success rate of 97% in current studies. The best part is this procedure can get you back on your feet for low impact activity within about two weeks.
While this new surgery option is exciting, it won’t be right for everyone. Talk to one of our doctors if you are experiencing foot pain from a bunion, they can evaluate you and get you on a treatment plan that will best fit your needs.