These are not merely unsightly bumps on the side of the foot. Bunions are the quiet joint killers. Although typically painful with redness and inflammation, this condition can have no symptoms for many years. During this time, the damage is being done as one of the most important joints in the foot becomes deteriorated and worn away. The cartilaginous joint surface that you are born with cannot be effectively replaced and technology to achieve this is still some time away. In the meantime, the cartilage is progressively eroded as the deformity continues to grow and pain usually follows. However, often the most disturbing aspect of this problem is the aesthetic appearance of the foot and inability to wear the desired shoes.
Conservative treatment often includes wearing silicone bunion shields, wide unfashionable shoes, and occasionally injections of anti-inflammatory medication. Unfortunately, since this is a fixed structural deformity, conservative care can only go so far and surgery is generally recommended. Most bunions become painful and irritate the foot inside shoes at some point and being proactive at preventing further deterioration is usually the best decision. When taking this into consideration, an aesthetic result is of major importance. Conventional bunion surgery has been performed for decades. Previously, little attention has been focused on the cosmetic result, consideration for the patient’s ease of recovery and post-operative pain.
Using the state of art in fixation, aesthetic incision placement and modifications of time tested surgical techniques, Dr. Lucas has been successfully performing these procedures and changing people’s lives one foot at a time. Patient’s typically can ambulate the same day. All fixation is hidden and does not usually need to be removed. Gone are the days of railroad track incision scars on the top of the big toe joint, having wires, or pins protruding through the skin. Casts are almost never necessary and pain is minimal to none. Contrary to popular belief and what people may tell you, bunion surgery does not have to be painful and debilitating.
Treatment for Bunions
Because they are bone deformities, bunions do not resolve by themselves. The goal for bunion treatment is twofold: first, to relieve the pressure and pain caused by irritations, and second, to stop any progressive growth of the enlargement. Commonly used methods for reducing pressure and pain caused by bunions include:
- The use of protective padding, often made from felt material, to eliminate the friction against shoes and help alleviate inflammation and skin problems.
- Removal of corns and calluses on the foot.
- Changing to carefully fitted footwear designed to accommodate the bunion and not contribute toward its growth.
- Orthotic devices — both over-the-counter and custom made — to help stabilize the joint and place the foot in the correct position for walking and standing.
- Exercises to maintain joint mobility and prevent stiffness or arthritis.
- Splints for nighttime wear to help the toes and joint align properly. This is often recommended for adolescents with bunions, because their bone development may still be adaptable.
Depending on the size of the enlargement, misalignment of the toe, and pain experienced, conservative treatments may not be adequate to prevent progressive damage from bunions. In these cases, bunion surgery, known as a bunionectomy, may be advised to remove the bunion and realign the toe. Dr. Lucas utilizes a “Hidden Incisional” approach when performing bunion surgery. He realizes that aesthetics is just as important as comfort and structural realignment of bunion deformities.