What is a Bunion?
A bunion, otherwise known as Hallux Valgus, is the prominence on the side of the big toe. While pain from the prominence may be a common complaint, there are other problems that develop from the deformity. A bunion is actually a progressive big toe joint dislocation which slowly wreaks havoc and injures the rest of the foot. Most people are shocked to hear this, and many doctors don't even fully understand this concept. You can't effectively walk on this dislocation. Instead, you transfer the weight to other parts of the foot. This compensation is called accommodation.
When you constantly borrow from Peter to pay Paul, Peter eventually goes broke. When you don't curtail your activity while you have a chronically dislocated big toe, eventually something else breaks down. In medical terms this is called Overuse Syndrome. With a chronic bunion deformity, the Overuse Syndrome may result in:
Arthritis of the Sesamoid Bones Beneath the Big Toe
Second Hammertoe and Crossover Toe Deformity
Metatarsal Stress Fractures
Midfoot Degenerative Arthritis
Most people with a high pain tolerance and those who curtail their activities and avoid use of narrow shoes can tolerate the bunion prominence until one of the other problems develops. Then they come looking for help.
Nonsurgical treatments for bunion deformities have very low success rates. In 2001, The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study entitled, "Surgery vs orthosis vs watchful waiting for hallux valgus: a randomized controlled trial."
The results demonstrated that after one year patients treated by surgery had great pain relief. Those treated by inserts and those that did nothing had equal or higher pain scores. In fact, the pain levels INCREASED with nonsurgical or so-called conservative treatments. In a follow up study
in 2003, the same authors compared patients that waited a year before undergoing surgery to those who underwent immediate surgery. Thankfully, they found no difference between the two groups after surgery.
Despite the data from these studies, many doctors continue to prescribe nonsurgical treatment for patients with bunion disorders. This practice is supported by the belief that surgical risks are greater than nonsurgical risks. For years doctors and lay people have said, "Don't do surgery until you can't stand it anymore." This is truly a nonsensical approach to patient care. Only the rare bunion will benefit from an insert, whereas successful surgery is nearly always effective in diminishing pain and improving shoewear and function.
Read more information on Bunion Correction Surgery
If you’re experiencing foot pain because of a bunion, contact our office today to schedule an appointment for help with bunion treatment