WHAT IS A BUNION?
A bunion occurs when the first metatarsal bone behind the large toe gradually moves out to form a lump or projection on the side of the foot. The first metatarsal is the major weight-bearing bone of the forefoot.
Bunions come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Some people have a very small bunion that can still cause a great deal of discomfort, possibly because the bunion pinches the nerve against the bone. There are other people who have very large bunions with toes that overlap each other, but they do not have a lot of discomfort if they are willing to wear the shoes that it takes to be comfortable with this much deformity.
A bunion is created by muscle imbalances that are most closely linked to inherited tendencies. Certainly trauma or an accident can create a bunion but it’s far from the most frequent source. Both men and women can get bunions but about 90% of those who obtain correction are female. Narrow shoes do not cause bunions, but they can certainly make them very uncomfortable.
THE DECISION TO HAVE BUNION SURGERY
It’s important to know that no one has ever died because they have a bunion. The decision to have the bunion repaired or to simply wear shoes or orthotic devices that provide more comfort can only be made by the patient. A doctor should never tell a patient they need to have a bunionectomy or that they need to be in a hurry to do it.
There are two major considerations when deciding whether or not to have a bunion correction done. The most important is whether or not the patient is willing to devote the time and effort to achieve a good recovery. A patient can damage the best bunion correction in the world by not following directions. The other critical item is to select a surgeon with the training and experience to know which exact procedure to use and to perform the operation skillfully. A bunion repair is a partnership between doctor and patient, and both must put forth their best effort to have the best possible result.