What are Bunions?
Bunions are a common foot deformity that effect people of any age. The deformity occurs when the big toe starts moving towards the second toe and a bony bump develops on the side of the foot. Pain and inflammation often develop around the joint but bunions can also cause pain elsewhere in the ball of the foot due to abnormal weight transfer. Bunions can also lead to deformity of the second and third toes.
Why do they occur?
Research suggests that bunions are hereditary in about 90% of cases. They tend to be more painful for females which is most likely linked to the shoes worn. Many people think bunions only occur in old age but most people who develop bunions show signs of the deformity in their twenties. Bunions can also develop in children.
Are they always painful?
No. Some people can go throughout life with bunions and not experience pain. However if the bunion becomes bigger it will often cause pain and deformity elsewhere in the foot which may mean the bunion needs to be treated. Also the bigger the bunion the harder it is to accommodate the deformity in regular footwear. It is also well recognized that for may people the pain that a bunion can cause may not be permanent. Episodes of pain may last for weeks, months or years and then settle. This probably relates to the level of inflammation within the joint and surrounding soft tissues.
Unfortunately research demonstrates that there is no effective conservative treatment that can cure bunions. Many treatment options are available to reduce the pain from the bunion joint. These include wide fitting low heeled footwear, bunion pads and splints, orthotic inserts and cortisone injections. All of these treatment options can be discussed during your consultation.
The leaflets (scarf and lapidus) describe both conservative and surgical treatment options and these will be discussed in detail at your consultation. Surgical treatment can be performed by both open and minimally invasive techniques.
Surgery is usually performed as a day-case procedure so patients go home on the same day. Surgery can be performed under general or local anaesthetic or sedation.
How successful is surgery?
Historically bunion surgery was not very successful. The research results from bunion surgery performed 30-50 years ago demonstrated high levels of patient dissatisfaction and high recurrence rates. Modern day surgical results are much better. Most studies demonstrate satisfaction rates of 80-90% with recurrence rates of between 6-13%.
Mr Yates performs approximately 200 bunion corrections each year. A recent independent audit carried out on his patients up to two years after surgery demonstrated a 93% satisfaction rate. His revision surgery rate for bunion correction is 1%.
What is the right age for surgery?
There is no optimal age for bunion surgery. If your bunion is causing you pain or preventing you from undertaking normal activities then surgical correction should be considered.
Many older patients think they are too old to undergo surgery. However many people in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s have successfully had bunion corrective surgery by Mr Yates (link to bunion testimonials). A patients general health is much more important than how old they are in determining whether they are fit and well enough to undergo surgery. A thorough medical history and examination will be performed before any surgery.
Bunions can occasionally occur in children. Often in childhood they are painless but it is naturally worrying to see deformity developing in a child. Again if the bunion is painful or interfering with normal daily activities then surgical treatment should be considered.
Bunion Surgery (Osteotomy)