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Planning Retirement Online

Blame your parents for your bunion


February 2014

Bunions are a bit like gout - a problem that tends to be taken lightly and even joked about - until you actually become a sufferer.

In fact bunions are not only extremely common, but can also be really painful and have serious affect on the quality of your life.

The latest information on bunions indicate that they are linked to genetics and your ancestry and not to bad shoes or flat feet. This goes against a lot of information our generation was given when we were young, although it seems that bad footwear can make bunions worse. There is more information on the latest research re the link between bunions and footwear.

But whatever the cause, you really don’t want them.

A bunion is really a bony growth on the big toe. It is a deformity that causes the big toe on either foot to start turning inwards and point towards the other toes on the same foot. This in turn can force the foot bone attached to it (the first metatarsal) to stick outwards. Sometimes it can become so bad that the big toe actually moves over the toe next to it. This can cause serious mobility problems.
Also, this change in the foot can lead to swelling, pain and tenderness around the big toe to the point where it becomes very painful indeed.

 

The medical term for a bunion is hallux valgus.

Bunions are more common in women than men and they are more likely to appear as we get older.

When bunions are not particularly big or causing too much discomfort, they can be left alone. However, in many cases they are so painful and cause so many problems with walking and obtaining shoes that can be worn in comfort that surgery is the recommended treatment.

 

Bunion surgery today is very successful and recovery can be quick. There are a number of different procedures that can be used, all with the main purpose of realigning the big toe back into its natural position and to eliminate the bump on the side of the toe joint. An incision is made on the side of the big toe joint and the metatarsal will be set into a better position, usually fixed into place either by a small pin or screw while the bone heals. The surgeon will usually shave off the bone on the side of the big toe joint to make the foot straight again and in some cases, the ligaments and tendons may need to be repositioned.

The operation usually takes around half an hour and is often done under local anaesthesia so that the patient can go home quickly. The foot is stitched back and bandaged and sometimes a plaster cast is used to protect the foot while the bone heals.

The risk of complications after surgery are low but can include infection, nerve damage or even a recurrence of the bunion.

After the operation, the foot will require continued support and protection as the bone heals and pain killers may be needed for a while. Specific exercises will also be recommended and recovery can be anything from a few weeks to even months depending on how intrusive the surgery was and your general level of health. 



 

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