Do You Have Hallux Abducto Valgus?
Approximately 1 in 3 Americans will have hallux abducto valgus, or bunions, at some point. Defined as a bump that gradually forms on the exterior of the big toe, bunions can lead to difficulty walking, decreased mobility throughout the toes, and severe inflammation in the toe and foot joints. Bunions commonly appear when the toe joint is stressed over a prolonged period. Although prevalent, severe cases of bunions can notably impact one’s quality of life and range of motion. While not recommended for cosmetic purposes, surgery is needed to correct severe cases of bunions. Following a bunionectomy procedure, patients can expect to return to daily life after a few weeks of healing.
When is surgery necessary?
Although patients may be tempted to pursue surgery as an initial plan of action, research suggests non-surgical treatment as a first step. Wearing comfortable, well-fitting shoes is key to relieving foot pain, particularly shoes that conform to the shape of the foot and do not cause undue pressure. Some experts suggest special shoe inserts shaped to the patient's feet to reposition the big toe while providing padding. Specific medications can alleviate pain and swelling if a bunion is caused by arthritis.
What happens after a bunionectomy?
If a doctor determines that surgery is necessary, the bunion has likely caused enough interruption to make walking unbearable. Types of surgical intervention depend on patient age, health history, and bunion severity. Typically, a bunionectomy involves cutting and realigning the bone and correcting the position of the tendons and ligaments. While the foot is numbed, the patient often stays awake for the procedure, curtailing hospital time. After an operation, many doctors recommend limiting walking to a minimum for at least 2 weeks until the stitches are removed.
Walking into a pain-free future
While bunions are painful and irritating, many patients can find relief with lifestyle changes and topical or oral medications. In severe cases, a doctor may perform a bunionectomy, removing or repressing the swollen tissue and deformed bone. Patients must limit walking for several weeks after surgery to allow the foot time to heal. Bunions are a frequent problem, but with proper medical care, patients can return to a pain-free life within 2 weeks.
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