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Bunion surgery

Bunion Surgery and Other Treatments

There is still no medical consensus about the cause of bunions, a lateral deformity of the great toe. Some claim that they are caused by the constant pressure tight, pointed shoes exercise on the toe, while others are convinced that one must have a genetic disposition to have bunions. Interestingly, in societies where people do not wear shoes, nobody develops bunions, which might favour the first theory.

There are some genetic factors that cannot be ignored, namely flat feet, bone structure and the over-flexibility of ligaments and tendons which predispose people for the condition.

Bunion treatment and bunion surgery cost will be treated in depth in the following lines.

What Happens When The Great Toe Is Exposed to Pressure?

Bunion anomaly in medical terms is called hallux abducto-valgus. It is an abnormal inward turning of the great toe, which is a problem as the great toe should fall in the body’s midline. The pressure on the side of the big toe makes it turn towards or under the other toes, making the tissues around the joint swollen and sensitive. The bunion or a bump becomes visible which might seem like an enlarged bone, but in fact it is the head of the first metatarsal bone in a bad position.

Some other medical conditions may stem from bunions:

  • arthritis
  • diminished motion
  • bursitis


It is very easy to detect the symptoms of bunions as besides the pain and discomfort it has visible signs. We can observe redness, irritation around the bunion, and the change in the position of the great toe. Walking and running will soon become painful and in a very developed bunion can cause spontaneous pain in all over the leg.

Bunion Treatment

Traditional non-surgical treatment may involve the use of gelled footwear, toe separator, bunion cushions or regulatory splints, but these methods usually address the symptoms, but do not treat the deformity itself.

To solve the problem and correct the anomaly permanently bunion surgery is recommended by orthopedic surgeons or podiatry surgeons.

The Bunion Surgery

There are more than 100 applied surgical procedures for bunion, deciding the most suitable one always depends on the condition.

Your operation will contain one or more of the following steps:

  • straightening and adjusting the great toe to the first metatarsal bone
  • removing bone enlargement of the first metatarsal head (bunionectomy)
  • realignment or removal of soft tissue (joint and ligament) and bone
  • treating arthritic conditions
  • relocating the sesamoid bones under the first metatarsal bone
  • shortening or lengthening the first metatarsal bone
  • fixation of bones with screws, wires, plates and absorbable pins
  • Artificial joint implant insertion
  • Fusion of the great toe joint

It used to be performed under spinal or general anesthesia, but nowadays less invasive methods are preferred that require only local anesthesia and sedation.

The incision is normally made over the great toe joint. Bunion surgery might take 1-3 hours, depending on the condition, and after a few hours you can leave the hospital. You will have to return within 7-21 days to remove the stitches and within 4 weeks to remove bone fixing. Special shoes will be prescribed for you, and you will not be allowed to put weight on your foot for about 8 weeks.

Recovery time varies, but as average you will be out of your general routine for at least 6-8 weeks and you will have to support your movement with crutches. However, full recovery might take a whole year.

Gains and Risks

  • Walking and motion in general will be less painful, your legs will get new contour and will look normal.
  • Bunions might return with time.
  • Your great toes will be less flexible, so physical exercise might be a problem for many.
  • Sensitivity, burning or numbness of the toes due to nerve damage.

Bunion Surgery Costs

Part of the surgery is covered by insurance, but in the U.S. you will pay extra for the doctor’s fees, tests and operating room. Overall your costs vary between $3,000 and $10,000, which might sound a bit exaggerated for a leg surgery.

Try to get informed about all the related costs, and where possible, ask for a discount.