A bunion is a bony growth that appears on the outside of the big toe where the toe joins your forefoot. In their early stages, bunions cause only minor irritation and soreness, which can be managed with NSAIDS, properly fitted shoes and rest. Some bunions never progress past this stage, but others do. Oftentimes, when bunions continue to worsen, they eventually require surgical correction.
How do you know when the time has come for you to have bunion surgery? Here are four signs you are ready for this procedure.
1. Noninvasive Treatments Aren't Working
Do your bunions continue to bother you when you're taking over-the-counter pain relievers, like naproxen and ibuprofen? You may want to experiment with a few other pain relief methods, such as holding a heating pad against your sore toe or wearing a custom splint inside your shoe.
If these remedies don't work, then your podiatrist may recommend cortisone injections. Cortisone is a steroid that has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect and may make your bunions less painful for a few months at a time. If your cortisone injections are not providing more than a week or two of relief, then you may be a good candidate for bunion surgery.
2. Pain and Discomfort Interferes With Your Daily Life
Minor pain that appears now and then is one thing. Serious pain that makes it tough to even walk across the room is quite another. Patients with serious bunions often find it difficult to perform their jobs and enjoy activities they once loved. Continuing to live with this serious pain may impact your career and your relationships — making surgery a good way to reclaim your life.
3. Your Toe Is Fixed in Place
When bunions are in their early stages, you can usually still bend and straighten the toe. As the bunions progress, the toe sometimes becomes fixed in place. This can make finding shoes that fit very difficult. It can also make it difficult to put your shoes on. You may find walking very painful and find that you are unable to run or jump.
No amount of physical therapy or conservative treatment will free up the joint again, so complete fixation of the toe is often a sign that surgery is needed.
4. You Have Time to Dedicate to Recovery
It's important to take timing into account when considering bunion surgery. Patients must wear a protective boot and minimize time on their feet for two or more weeks following surgery, and a full recovery takes up to six months. For that reason, you must make sure that you have this time available to dedicate to recovery.
If you have a very important work function, a family vacation or another occasion coming up, you may want to delay the surgery until after that event. In the meantime, your podiatrist can help you use splints, pain relievers and exercises to keep your foot as comfortable as possible.
Before you commit to bunion surgery, you should also make sure you have a friend or family member who is willing to help care for you. For the first few days after surgery, you'll have trouble getting around on your own and will need someone to help you prepare meals, change the dressing on your foot and take you to doctors' appointments.
If your bunion pain is no longer manageable with conservative treatments and has begun to impact your quality of life, then it may be time for bunion surgery. Make sure you have time to dedicate to recovery and a friend lined up to care for you, and then contact Baton Rouge Foot Care to consult with our specialists. We'll analyze your case and discuss the surgical approach that will most benefit you.