Source: GMN Health
Most people put up with painful feet because because they have heard that treatment, especially surgery, is often complicated and painful. However, this is no longer true since new treatment approaches and surgical techniques allow for fewer complications, less pain, and faster recovery.
A bunion — Hallux Abducto Valgus – is a bump at the inner side of the foot at the big toe joint. Hammertoes are contractures of the smaller toes, and the condition is often associated with a corn, callous or bunion. A hammertoe, or claw toe, describes a condition where the toe(s) become buckled, contracted or crooked.Any of the toes may be affected, but the 2nd and 5th toe are most commonly involved.
Bunions and hammertoes are progressive throughout life. Heredity and shoe choices are the most likely reasons to develop a hammertoe or bunion. Weight and activity level can also affect their development.
There are various conservative methods of treating bunions and hammertoes. Wearing a more accommodative pair of shoes can help, though this is not practical for everyone. Pads placed over the area of the deformity may help minimize pain. Splinting devices might assist temporarily. Orthotic devices can be used to slow or prevent the progression of a bunion. Also, anti-inflammatory medications and injection therapy are a sure way to alleviate the pain and swelling associated with a bunion or hammertoe. However, none of these treatments can actually reverse a bunion deformity.
Since bunions are a bony structural problem, the most definitive treatment is surgery. People, however, often postpone surgery due to misconceptions, such as, extreme pain, slow healing and visible scarring. In fact, with newer surgical approaches and postoperative management, patients often experience very little pain after the first 48 hours. Today’s more modern techniques utilize smaller incisions and less extensive soft tissue dissection which in turn, minimizes pain and healing time. Most patients find that the initial postoperative discomfort is tolerable with a dedicated pain management program that includes pain medications.
Today, the majority of patients having distal bunionectomies such as the popularAustin bunionectomy, and nearly all hammertoe surgery can be weight bearing immediately after surgery in a protective walking boot due to recent technological advancements. Usually, the patient can wear sneakers in three weeks and return to all activities by six weeks. However, those patients that undergo bunionectomies at the base of the first metatarsal, such as a base wedge bunionectomy or a Lapidus bunionectomy, may need to remain non-weight bearing for up to six weeks. Patients often return to desk jobs in as little two weeks!
Ultimately, each patient should be evaluated by a board-certified foot surgeon and an individualized care plan should be created that is specific to the individual patient’s needs.
By Dr. Ujjwal Datta, a board-certified foot and ankle surgeon affiliated with The Surgery Center at Old Bridge, located in the Medical And Surgical Pavilion at Raritan Bay Medical Center. For more information, call 855- 5-MOTION, or visit http://gardenstatepodiatrist.com.