Got bunions? Sick and tired of big toe and foot pain? Considering bunion surgery?
A consistently high number of hallux valgus surgery patients remained dissatisfied at follow‐up
Misaligned feet, relentless big toe pain and even expensive orthotics often don’t make a difference to the pain. Bunion surgery is often sold as the cure all for bunions and big toe pain and the next and only logical step to be pain free.
Just to be clear, it’s not only women who get bunions and bunions aren’t inherited, there is no ‘bunion gene’, and bunions aren’t just bad luck. I know women who wear tight, high-heeled and uncomfortable shoes all day long with no signs of bunions forming while others get them in abundance despite spending BIG dollars on ‘correct’ shoes.
Whether you call it a hallux valgus correction, bunion surgery or even a bunionectomy. Whatever name it’s given it still a significant surgery and one done often with less than glowing outcomes.
People often confuse the outcome they want with what surgeons are offering.
What really annoys me is that bunions are not a stand-alone entity. Bunions are years of abnormal motion and pressure on the joint that forces the big toe to bend toward the others, which causes an often-painful bunion on the joint.
Doing the surgery may correct the physical deformity that has occurred, but it won’t correct the things that have caused it. This means that there is a good chance that the bunion and the pain will come back again.
So why do bunions form?
Bunions are the body’s compensatory attempt to keep you upright and stable, due to a loss of function. When I say loss of function, I mean a joint doesn’t work the way it should. One or more of the muscles acting on a joint can’t do their job properly, so the body instinctively changes how it uses the joint.
This loss of normal movement may be local in the big toe or foot, or it could be further up at the knee or hip. The important thing is bunions form because of the compensation to this abnormal movement.
The frustrating thing with this is that a loss of function in most cases can be restored. When you restore the function, you stop the abnormal motion of the joint and often the associated pain. That means the need for surgical intervention is removed and better still your body is functioning as it’s meant to.
Bunions are a structural adaptation to a loss in normal movement. Bunion surgery will at best correct the physical deformity but will never resolve the underlying cause.
What really frustrates me is when people enter surgery with the expectation that the surgery will resolve all their functional issues and they fail to understand that surgery will never achieve this!
You must correct the areas causing the loss of normal movement. Once that is corrected, only then if you still need to, would you consider surgery to drastically change the physical deformity.
So do you want to know how I would approach a bunion problem?
Ok, here are the steps I would take if I had a bunion that I wanted help with:
- Establish the underlying biomechanical and or neurological problems that are preventing healthy foot function
- Work with someone you trust who is knowledgeable in foot health towards specific functional goals for your feet
- Assess to see if restoring function has allowed you to regain movement and the lifestyle you want
- Determine if surgery is actually required or warranted based on whether or not you achieved the goals you were after
If you need some advice or help, click here and enter your details. We’re happy to talk to you about your feet and what is the next best step to painless steps.