What is a Bunion?

A bunion, known medically as Hallux Valgus, stands out as one of the most prevalent deformities affecting the foot. Characterized by the outward protrusion of the bunion alongside the big toe which veers towards the second toe, this condition significantly alters foot mechanics. Consequently, it impacts the foot’s natural weight loading during toe off, causing transfer pressure to the lesser toe joints.

Individuals with bunions often experience discomfort and pain concentrated around the bunion area and the joint. Moreover, the pressure exerted by the misaligned big toe can lead to pain and deformation in the second toe, compounding the issue.

Man with swollen deformed inflammed toe joint with painful gout on wooden floooring
What Causes Bunions?

Bunions can be caused by various factors, including inherited foot mechanics, foot shape, muscle imbalances, and footwear choices. While narrow shoes, particularly those worn by women, can contribute to bunions, they are not the sole cause. Pain from bunions arises due to friction between the prominent joint and shoes, as well as the misalignment of the big toe. Additionally, adjacent parts of the foot may become painful as the bunion alters weight distribution.

What are the Treatment Options for my Bunion?

For bunions, non-surgical treatments like painkillers, bunion pads, orthotics, and appropriate footwear can provide relief but won’t correct the foot’s shape. Surgery is often recommended if the bunion affects daily activities. The Scarf/Akin procedure is commonly used for moderate bunions, involving realignment of the first metatarsal and big toe bones using screws and wires. This surgery typically doesn’t require a plaster cast or crutches post-operation.

What does Bunion Surgery Involve?
Bunion surgery involves reducing the bunion deformity and realigning the big toe joint and metatarsal bone. This is typically done under local anesthesia, with a small incision made along the side of the bunion joint. The podiatric surgeon cuts and realigns the bones, then fixes them with screws or wires. The procedure takes about 35-45 minutes, and patients can usually go home the same day. Risks include pain, swelling, infection, deep vein thrombosis, chronic pain syndrome, numbness, joint stiffness, recurrence, and failure to resolve all pain.


What Happens After Surgery?
After surgery, you’ll be taken to the ward where you’ll receive food and drink. You’ll be given instructions for pain relief and discharged from the day surgery unit with recovery information. You’ll wear a post-operative boot and shouldn’t remove it until instructed. Driving after foot surgery is not advised, so you should be accompanied home by someone responsible. You’ll be informed of your follow-up appointment either on the day or via a letter in the post.