CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — No one likes to talk about bunions, but more people have them than you think: Doctors perform about half a million surgeries every year.
Bunions occur in about 30 percent of the population. Anyone can get bunions, but they are more common in women.
“A bunion is caused by many different things," said Foot and Ankle Specialist of CC's Dr. Corey Goolsby. "It could be arthritic, gout -- believe it or not -- can cause bunion deformities; Also, shoe gear can cause bunions, whether you are wearing too narrow of a shoe. I always recommend people to get into wider shoes, because that bump can rub a narrow shoe and be really irritated.”
A bunion is a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe. It forms when your big toe pushes against your next toe, forcing the joint of your big toe to get bigger and stick out.
There are many theories about how bunions develop, but the exact cause is unknown. Factors likely include: inherited foot type, foot injuries and deformities present at birth (congenital).
Bunions might be associated with certain types of arthritis, particularly inflammatory types, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
“Again, so a bunion is an enlargement of the joint on the inside of the big toe," Goolsby said. "It can be red, swollen, or inflamed. People will complain of stiffness with the big toe joint.”
For those who need surgery, podiatrist and foot-and-ankle specialist Goolsby, is one of the first area doctors to perform a minimally invasive surgery at Corpus Christi Medical Center.
“So what we are doing is small micro-incisions for this bunion correction," he said. "It is about three little poke holes that are less than five millimeters, or shorter than a pencil head of an eraser."
With this technique, patients will typically have less pain and swelling after surgery, with a lower risk of infection.
“With the open procedure, patients were off their feet anywhere from six-to-eight weeks of total non-weight bearing, or no pressure on their foot," Goolsby said. "And with these minimally invasive bunion procedures, now we are getting patients back into shoes in two-to-four weeks, depending on the health of the patient and the seriousness of the deformity. But we have patients walking as early as three days after surgery."
During traditional bunion open surgery, which Goolsby says notoriously is painful, surgeons make large incisions sometimes nearly one centimeter, or up to five centimeters long. They then cut the bone, realign the joint, and screw it in place.
The signs and symptoms of a bunion include:
▪ A bulging bump on the outside of the base of your big toe
▪ Swelling, redness or soreness around your big toe joint
▪ Corns or calluses — these often develop where the first and second toes overlap
▪ Persistent or intermittent pain
▪ Restricted movement of your big toe, if arthritis affects the toe
When to see a doctor:
Although bunions often require no medical treatment, see your doctor or a doctor who specializes in treating foot disorders (podiatrist or orthopedic foot specialist) if you have:
▪ Persistent big toe or foot pain
▪ A visible bump on your big toe joint
▪ Decreased movement of your big toe or foot
▪ Difficulty finding shoes that fit properly because of a bunion
If conservative treatment doesn't provide relief from your symptoms, you might need surgery. However, surgery isn't recommended unless a bunion causes you frequent pain or interferes with your daily activities.
A minimally invasive surgery Foot Surgery at Corpus Christi Medical Center utilizes percutaneous, micro-incisions to correct bunions (hallux valgus), hammertoes, hallux rigidus and other foot conditions, which cause far less damage to your foot.
▪ Removing the swollen tissue from around your big toe joint
▪ Straightening your big toe by removing part of the bone
▪ Realigning the long bone between the back part of your foot and your big toe, to straighten out the abnormal angle in your big toe joint
▪ Joining the bones of your affected joint permanently
Surgeons have found the following advantages of minimally invasive procedures: less pain, earlier return to function compared to an open procedure, smaller incision, less soft-tissue disruption and smaller scars