7 Signs It's Time to Consider Bunion Surgery

Jan 02, 2024
7 Signs It's Time to Consider Bunion Surgery
While many bunions can be managed conservatively, certain signs indicate surgery might be the most effective treatment. Here are some signs it’s time to consider surgical treatment.

Bunions, those bony bumps that form at the base of the big toe, are not just a cosmetic issue. They are deformities caused by an altered foot structure, often leading to pain and discomfort. While many people manage bunions with conservative treatments like wider shoes, padding, and orthotics, there are cases where surgery becomes a necessary consideration. 

Dr. Eric Gilbertson, DPM, FACFAS, a double board-certified podiatrist at Renew Foot & Ankle, LLC, in Grand Rapids and Bigfork, Minnesota, offers the following seven signs that it might be time to consider bunion surgery.

1. You experience persistent pain

One of the most telling signs is dealing with pain that doesn't improve with non-surgical treatments. If your bunion pain limits your activities, affects your quality of life, and persists despite trying various conservative measures, surgery might be the next step.

2. Chronic inflammation and swelling

If the bunion area is frequently inflamed and swollen, even after rest and medication, it's an indication that the condition might require surgical intervention. Chronic inflammation can lead to further complications and discomfort.

3. You experience decreased mobility

Bunions can lead to stiffness and decreased movement in the big toe. If you find it increasingly difficult to move your toe or experience stiffness that impacts your ability to walk comfortably, surgery may be necessary to restore mobility.

4. Your toe is deformed

 A visibly altered shape of your big toe or foot, such as the big toe relocating towards the other toes, strongly indicates surgery. Toe deformity can lead to overlapping or underlapping toes, compounding the problem.

5. It hurts to wear shoes 

When bunions progress, finding comfortable shoes can become a challenge. If your bunion forces you to wear footwear that is unsuitable or uncomfortable, or if you're unable to wear shoes at all, surgery might be the best option to improve your quality of life.

6. You develop more foot issues

Bunions can lead to other foot issues, like hammertoes or bursitis. If you start experiencing these secondary problems, it's a sign that the underlying bunion needs more aggressive treatment.

7. Conservative and do-it-yourself treatments don’t help 

If you've exhausted all non-surgical options like physical therapy, custom orthotics, anti-inflammatory medications, and lifestyle changes without significant relief, it might be time to consider surgical correction.

Deciding to undergo bunion surgery is not a decision to be taken lightly. It's important to discuss the risks, benefits, and recovery process with Dr. Gilbertson before deciding. Surgery can range from minor procedures like realigning the toe to more extensive surgeries that involve cutting and realigning bones. The goal is to relieve pain, correct the deformity, and improve function.

While many bunions can be managed conservatively, certain signs indicate surgery might be the most effective treatment.  If you're experiencing any of the above symptoms, call the office or schedule an appointment online to determine the best course of action for your condition.