Many people have an understandable reluctance to undergo surgery if they can avoid it. This makes sense most of the time, but when it comes to bunions and bunion pain, surgery really is the only method capable of removing bunions and alleviating bunion pain permanently. Yet, there are actually dozens of variations on bunion surgery. Indeed, depending on the size and severity of the bunion –– as well as other health factors –– doctors may recommend any one of 40+ possible procedural options. Obviously, this might seem overwhelming to a patient. With that in mind, today we’ll take a look at some of the most common types of bunion procedures, explain what they are, and what you as a patient can expect from them. Check it out here:
Minimally Invasive vs Traditional Bunion Surgery
While the objectives of most bunion surgeries are very similar, the methods surgeons use to carry them out fall into two distinct categories: minimally invasive and traditional, open-foot surgery.
During traditional bunion surgery, the surgeon will make a large incision along the side of the foot. Often, they will remove the bunion and use metal screws and sutures to hold the alignment of the foot in place. While this can be an effective way to remove a bunion, it also creates lots of collateral damage and difficulties. Traditional bunion surgeries are more susceptible to infection and in many instances patients experience large scarring along their foot as a result. What’s more, traditional bunion surgery requires general anesthesia and significant recovery time. It could take a patient months before they’re able to walk freely and without pain after traditional, open-foot surgery.
Conversely, minimally invasive surgery accomplishes the same goals as traditional surgery, but without the detrimental side effects. For one, minimally invasive surgery involves only a very small (¼ inch) incision along the side of the foot. This cuts down on scarring and recovery time. What’s more, doctors only need to use local anesthesia to numb the foot. This means that patients can, and regularly do, walk out of the operating room and drive home after their procedure. Finally, recovery time is drastically shorter with minimally invasive surgery.
Variations of Bunion Procedures
If your doctor recommends bunion surgery, they may use certain, specific terms to describe the procedure. As we mentioned above, that’s because there are many different variations on bunion surgery. Some of the most common types of bunion procedure include:
- Exostectomy –– during an exostectomy the surgeon will remove the bunion from the joint. This is often referred to as a “bunionectomy” or bunion removal. A strict exostectomy does not involve the realignment of the foot, and, as such, is typically performed in conjunction with another procedure.
- Osteotomy –– an osteotomy is a procedure performed to correct the joint near the big toe and restore the alignment of the foot.
- Arthrodesis & Arthroplasty –– individuals with arthritis and bunions may require specialized procedures like arthrodesis –– meant to remove arthritic joint surfaces, and arthroplasty –– meant to remove damaged portions of joint. Both may require the insertion of screws to hold the new alignment of the foot together.
Keep in mind that over-the-counter treatments like bunion splints, pads, and cushions will –– at best –– offer only minor and temporary pain relief. And none will act to reduce or “cure” a bunion.
At Northwest Surgery Center, we specialize in minimally invasive treatments. Our expert team has years of experience helping patients overcome bunion pain and get back to living their life to the fullest again –– pain-free. Contact us here to learn more about our methodologies or to schedule a free consultation today.
To learn more about minimally invasive bunion surgery, download our free “Guide to Minimally Invasive Foot & Ankle Surgery”!