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Is bunion surgery effective?

By September 29, 2009 - 3:27pm
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I have heard awful things about getting a bunion removed. I have heard that the surgery is extremely painful and that the foot hurts just as bad as before. I was just wondering if it is effective enough to consider or if I should try every alternate route prior to considering it?

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Hi, Khambli1. Welcome to EmpowHer, and thank you for your question!

I hope that others who have had this surgery will write in and tell of their experiences firsthand. What I would tell you, however, are two things:

1. If there are other things to be tried before surgery, this is always a good option, but

2. If you need the surgery, it can be fine.

My mother had bunion surgery about 15 years ago now. Yes, it was quite painful, and she was in one of those walking "boots" for a few weeks afterward, but it didn't keep her down. I was living a couple states away at the time and she even came to visit me while she still had the boot on. Depending on which foot the bunion is on, the boot might restrict your activities -- for instance, if it's your right foot, you can't drive for a while.

But her bunion has not reoccurred, and she has never had any trouble since then.

EmpowHer has an encyclopedia page on bunions, which includes different aspects of treatment and has some links at the bottom:


And here's a question from another EmpowHer reader along the same lines; one of our experts told her what to look for in a surgeon:


I am not sure where you live, but I did find this informative site as part of a Washington foot and ankle clinic. I am recommending the site to you because of its thorough treatment of the subject, with diagrams, that helped me understand the issues involved in whether to choose surgery (and what to try first). It might be of some help to you:


Here is their criteria for those who are considering surgery:

--You have a bunion - determined by clinical exam and x-rays.
--You feel you have exhausted all conservative care. Conservative therapy may include the following:
• Functional orthotics, prescribed and cast by your doctor and designed to relieve pressure within the big toe joint.
• Shoe Therapy, including proper shoes for your foot type and activities and possible modifications to your shoes.
• Accommodative padding.
• Activity modifications.
• Medications – short term therapy may help to reduce inflammation.
• Icing.
• Injection therapy – rarely used but may help in treating an inflamed bursa.
-- Your bunion interferes with daily activities.
-- You have pain inside the joint.
-- You would like surgery sooner than later.

That page also talks about two different kinds of bunion surgery, how to choose a surgeon for it, and information about recovery.

Much of this also depends on how bad your bunion is, and how much of an impact it has on your life now. Have you seen a podiatric physician (rather than an orthopedic surgeon) about it, and is surgery what she or he recommends?

September 30, 2009 - 9:23am
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