Does My Bunion Need Surgery?

Bunions are foot problems that are also eyesores. Nobody likes to unveil a big knob at the base of their big toe when they’re on a beach or pool, or when getting a pedicure. And nobody wants to be in pain, either. 

At Manhattan Footcare in New York City, experienced podiatrists Steve Menna, DPM, and George Pace, DPM, treat women and men with bunions every week. They’ve literally helped thousands of patients suffering from this foot condition at their offices in Midtown East Manhattan and in Brooklyn, New York, New York. 

When you come for a consultation, our podiatrists take X-rays, examine your feet, and study your walking gait. The X-rays show them how far the bunion has progressed and help them determine a treatment for you.

Why a bunion?

The unfortunately named bunion isn’t a big callus or even an actual lump. Instead, a bunion's a deformity of the joint that lies at the base of your big toe, called the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint. The MTP presses outward, instead of staying in alignment.

If you were born with flat feet or low arches, you’re at increased risk for a bunion. If your foot gets injured near the toe, or if you have arthritis in the toe, it may move out of alignment and cause a bunion. Weak ligaments in your foot can also cause your MTP to shift out of place.

Your walking gait may contribute to your bunion. You may put extra pressure on your big toe, causing it to turn inward, which thrusts the base of the MTP outward. 

Your genes play a significant role, too.  If others in your family have had bunions, you’re more likely to develop one. 

Should you cut off your bunion?

If your bunion isn’t painful, or if the pain is only mild, our podiatrists may recommend conservative treatments. However, if you’re in pain or if the bunion impedes your activities, then surgery may be the best option.

You might also opt for surgery if the bunion’s so extreme it’s causing your second toe or other toes to move out of position. Finally, if you’re distressed by the appearance of a bunion, surgery may be the only way to correct it. 

Try conservative treatments first

If your pain is mild and your activities aren’t impeded by your bunion, you can try conservative treatments. Following are a few options:

Relieve pain  

Over-the-counter pain relievers can reduce some of the inflammation from your bunion, which arises from being pressed against your footwear. However, pain medication doesn’t make the bunion go away. Long-term use isn’t recommended because it can cause organ damage. 

Change your shoes

Our podiatrists check what kinds of shoes you’ve been wearing. If you normally favor high heels, they recommend you switch to flats with a wide toe box. Pointed-toe shoes cram your toes together into an unnatural position and can make your bunion worse. 

Use orthotics

Part of your bunion workup includes a walking gait evaluation. If your foot rolls inward when you’re walking, you’re overpronating. Excess pronation increases the pressure on the inside section of the ball of your foot, including your big toe. Walking this way can result in a bunion as well as other foot issues. 

Our podiatrists may recommend orthotics to correct your gait. Orthotics aren’t like the shoe inserts you buy in the drugstore: They’re a custom-designed, prescription medical device that helps correct your overpronation. They may feature special arch support and heel support to prevent your foot from rolling inward. 

Pad or tape your toe

Your podiatrists can show you how to tape, splint, or pad your toe to help it move back into healthy alignment. Though padding and taping can relieve pressure on your other toes, it doesn’t resolve the actual bunion. 

Get an injection

For extremely painful bunions, a steroid injection helps subdue inflammation. You’ll have relief for a few months, but it’s not a permanent solution. 

Bye-bye bunion

If these treatments don’t help relieve your pain, the podiatrists at Manhattan Footcare recommend surgery. Drs. Menna and Pace have performed well over 1,000 bunion surgeries and always keep ahead of the curve on the latest and most effective procedures. 

You don’t have to be embarrassed by bunions or live with their pain. Call Manhattan Footcare’s office nearest you or request a bunion appointment through the online portal today.

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