What is surgical realignment/osteotomy for bunions?

A bunion is a large, bony bump on the inside edge of your foot at the base of your big toe. Your big toe can start moving over onto the toe next to it. This pushes your big toe joint out of place, and the joint becomes misaligned. As the joint moves more and more out of place, it forms a bunion.

Is surgery always required for bunions?

Bunions are often painful. As you walk, all of your weight lands on the bunion. When you stand, this also puts pressure on the bunion. It can be red and swollen or painful to the touch. A bunion can even start to hurt when you aren't standing on it. If you've had a bunion for a long time, it might be hard to move your big toe at all on that foot.

You may be able to relieve bunion pain if you wear roomy shoes, take pain medication and ice your foot. If these treatments don't work, your doctor may want to do a surgery called osteotomy. This surgery realigns your toe bones so they're back in their normal position. Your big toe and foot bones straighten out. The joint that created the bunion goes back in place under your big toe.

What to expect from surgical realignment/osteotomy for bunions

Doctors usually do bunion osteotomies while you're under general anesthesia. That means you're asleep through the whole operation. To do the surgery, the doctor makes a V-shaped cut in the skin over the bunion. They may shave some of the extra bone off the bunion. Then, the doctor cuts a wedge into the end of your big toe bone and moves your foot and toe bones back into proper alignment. Your surgeon may use permanent screws or wires to hold the bones in the right place.

After your surgery, you may need to spend a few hours recovering at the hospital. You might also have to spend a night in the hospital, but this isn't common. When you go home, your doctor may give you a special boot to wear. It protects your foot and keeps your weight off the bunion while it heals. You may need to wear the boot for several weeks. Your foot should fully recover from surgery in four to six months.

Common conditions requiring surgical realignment/osteotomy for bunions

Bunions are the main condition that requires an osteotomy. You can develop bunions for a number of reasons. These include:

  • Having arthritis or gout
  • Wearing shoes that are too tight
  • Spraining or fracturing your big toe
  • Having family members who've developed bunions
  • Having a natural foot shape that's prone to getting bunions

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