Bunions and hammertoes are uncomfortable and unsightly conditions that most people would prefer to go without. Unfortunately, there’s no magical cream that you can rub on a bunion or hammertoe to make them go away. Wearing comfortable shoes might be able to alleviate some of the pain and discomfort, but it won’t do anything to get rid of the underlying condition. This is why surgery is the most viable treatment option for individuals suffering from hammertoes or bunions.
However, any kind of surgery can be a little intimidating. Will it be painful? Will you need a sedative? How long is the recovery process? We will answer all of these questions and more, but first, let’s look at exactly what occurs during a bunion or hammertoe surgery:
Bunion and Hammertoe Surgery: The Basics
When it comes to bunion surgery, there are three different approaches based on patient-specific needs. They are: osteotomy, exostectomy, and arthrodesis. In an osteotomy, your surgeon will make an incision in the joint of your big toe and realign the joint to a more comfortable position. An exostectomy is a little different, as your surgeon will simply remove the additional bone mass (bunion) without doing any kind of alignment. Finally, an arthrodesis involves the replacement of the deformed joint with plates and screws to ensure a more normal alignment.
If you’re suffering from a hammertoe, your surgeon can either perform a “surgical release” and/or removal of part of the joint bone. A surgical release allows the tendons and ligaments that are causing the hammertoe to lengthen, thus allowing the toe to straighten to its former position. In some cases, this procedure is either combined with or replaced by the removal of part of the bone in the joint. This helps lessen the effect of the hammertoe by making the protruding joint smaller.
What to Expect During the Procedure
Traditional, or open-foot surgeries for conditions like hammertoes and bunions can be very painful and force an individual to spend at least a day in the hospital. These procedures require large incisions along the feet to correctly realign the muscles and joints. Thankfully, minimally invasive techniques now allow surgeons to operate using only local anesthesia. Minimally invasive foot surgeries are generally much less painful, produce less scarring, and allow patients to walk out of the operating room to drive home.
What to Expect After the Procedure
After traditional foot surgery, you can expect to leave the clinic with a surgical boot, crutches, or even a knee scooter. In some cases, you may need to stay off of your feet for a few days. However, you can often begin putting a little weight on the affected foot within 24 hours. You can expect some mild pain, for which your doctor may prescribe OTC painkillers.
The entire recovery process for either bunions or hammertoe can take anywhere between several weeks to several months or more, depending on various factors. Again, the good news here is that minimally invasive foot surgery dramatically shortens recovery time when compared to traditional methodologies. Patients who undergo minimally invasive foot surgery to address bunions or hammertoes can expect to return to work almost immediately with minimal scarring or soreness. All told, full recovery may take 1-5 weeks with the help of a protective shoe, but you will be able to walk out of surgery.
At Northwest Surgery Center, we specialize in minimally invasive procedures. So if you’re currently suffering from bunions, hammertoes, or any other type of foot pain, contact us today. We can help you get back to living life free from foot pain –– ASAP.
To learn more about minimally invasive bunion surgery, download our free “Guide to Minimally Invasive Foot & Ankle Surgery”!