Bunion X-RayCredit: M.Bajer

Health problems related to feet are a common problem among people of all age groups and backgrounds. Fortunately, there are many solutions available. Hallux valgus is one of the most common foot deformities. It's also called bunion, a word that has its origins in the French word "onion". Bunions are an uncomfortable problem, not only in terms of appearance. They affect the quality of life in general, they make it hard to wear most types of shoes. Inflammation caused by bunions leads to, sometimes very severe, pain. Walking can become difficult. Bunions can also trigger problems in different parts of the body. As they grow, more pressure is being put on the hips and knees. 

Contrary to popular opinion, bunions are not caused solely by footwear. Most of the time, they are inherited. It is true, however, that they can get worse due to wearing certain types of shoes. I'm not only referring to the ballet slippers worn by dancers, one of the more extreme causes of serious foot deformities. High heels, pointed toe stilettos or ill-fitting shoes can all make the problem worse.

There are some non surgical ways of dealing with bunions, such as massage, orthopedic footwear, toe splints or even acupuncture. They can be helpful in reducing pain or slowing down the bunion growth process. In the majority of serious cases, however, having an operation is the only solution. Different types of surgery are being performed and most of them don't require an overnight stay at the hospital. The recovery time varies, depending on the type of surgery, but not to a huge extent. With increasingly more modern techniques being used these days, it usually takes around two months to be able to walk without crutches. In my case, it took around six weeks of wearing a surgical boot. It is constructed in such way that it takes the pressure off the front of the foot. This allows the bones to heal. It is important not to, under any circumstances, step on the front of the foot.

Bunion surgery recoveryCredit: M.Bajer

The pain is severe at first and the first 48 hours post surgery are quite exhausting. Thankfully, doctor-prescribed medication makes it much easier to bear. It is very difficult to walk for the first week, even using the crutches, so it is advised to stay in bed. Having a friend or a family member around to bring meals or anything else during that time would be helpful. Foot will be very swollen and it should be kept elevated for the first few days. A stack of pillows does the trick. The dressing should not be allowed to get wet,so one needs to get creative while washing. After the worst is over, the patient's mobility slowly increases. As the foot heals with time, it eventually returns to normal. It takes a little bit of practice to get used to walking again.


On crutches after bunion surgery

While it is understandable that people usually want to avoid pain and inconvenience associated with undergoing a surgery, it shouldn't become a reason for not having it. Bunion correction surgery carries some potential risks and complications, but is successful in most cases and can change quality of life for the better. It takes time to recover and the patient can't engage in usual activities without discomfort for several weeks. It is, however, possible to be back at work on crutches within a month if one's occupation isn't physically demanding. Healing time can vary, it's individual to each person. It's important to know that even light sport activity may not possible for up to six months after surgery. 



Post surgery x-rayCredit: M.Bajer