What is a Bunion?
A bunion is a structural deformity of the big toe joint. The medical term is
Hallux AbductoValgus- where the Hallux (big toe) Abducts (moves towards the
lesser toes and moves into a Valgus position (rotates). It appears as if there is a
bump growing out of the foot at the big toe joint, but it is actually the metatarsal
head subluxating or dislocating. The big toe drifts of towards the lesser toes in
response to this and can cause the lesser toes to elevate, buckle or hammer as a
result. A bunion is often painful as well as cosmetically displeasing and is a
What can happen if it is left untreated?
If a bunion deformity is left untreated the bump (medial eminence) continues to
enlarge as the joint continues to sublux, the big toe continues to drift towards
the other toes and often will cause secondary hammering of the lesser toes
firstly affecting the second toe along, then the third, fourth and fifth. The longer
the joint is maltracking the more likely it is that the joint will degenerate. This
degeneration is the wear and tear we commonly know as arthritis or
osteoarthritis. Once the joint starts to degenerate other effects like joint swelling
and pain are more likely to progress and become more debilitating as well.
How do you treat a bunion?
Bunions can be treated both conservatively (non-surgically) and surgically.
Conservative options include padding, cushioning, splinting, joint injections,
accommodating with footwear and even orthoses if secondary to foot
mechanics. None of these treatments will straighten the toe, but they can be
effective in controlling symptoms, and sometimes slowing the progression.
Surgical options may sometimes include reshaping the “bump” but generally
speaking the joint needs to be realigned, so it involves cutting the metatarsal
bone and rotating it back into the foot and pinning it into place.
What happens during Bunion surgery?
Bunion surgery is performed as day surgery under local anaesthetic, sedation or
general anaesthetic depending on the extent of the deformity and patient
preference. The “bump” will be reduced but more importantly the joint will be
realigned so that it can track properly again instead of wearing unevenly. There
is often soft tissue involvement and tendons and capsular changes that are
contributing need to be addressed at the same time to minimise the chance of
recurrence. Any hammertoes can be addressed at the same time if they exist.
What to expect after surgery?
You are able to go home on the day of surgery as it is day surgery. You will be
expected to keep your foot elevated for the first two weeks, although you will
be able to walk in a protected capacity with a surgical shoe and crutches to
assist you. After two weeks you can generally start returning to trainer style
footwear for the next 2-6 weeks as you start to return to normal activity levels.
By two months you should be walking normally, and by three months there
should be no limitations on your activity levels.
Starting at $2400 but will depend on the complexity.
Disclaimer: Individual results may vary. Surgery and all health regulated services may carry some risks which you can discuss with our doctor.