Do I Really Need Bunion Surgery?
Like many elective procedures, it’s not always easy to know when “it’s time” with bunion surgery. Some people seem to deal with these frustrating foot bumps just fine. Others suffer with them for years.
On the one hand, it might seem silly to schedule a surgical procedure that’ll keep you off your feet for weeks—or even months—if you’re scraping along day-to-day just fine. On the other hand, years of pain, suffering, and diminishing quality of life is clearly not the answer.
So what is the answer?
To be honest, there’s no “one size fits” all advice that applies to every person and every situation. The “it’s time” point is a little different for everyone, depending on how they’re feeling and what they want out of their lives.
That being said, you shouldn’t have to guess. You should be confident that you’re making the right decision for you, your family, and your future—whatever it may be.
At the Family Foot & Ankle Center of Jasper, we’re here to help you make that call. We can give you the information and wisdom you need, and then provide the highest quality care—conservative or surgical—to improve your quality of life.
A Roadmap for Deciding if Surgery Is Right for You
When it comes to developing a treatment plan for your bunions, it all really comes down to one basic question:
“Am I able to live the life I want to live today?”
The most important thing is your quality of life, and being able to do the things you want to do. The goal of any treatment—conservative or surgical—is to allow you to live your best life to the fullest, as well as you possibly can.
When Your Bunions Aren’t Giving You Too Many Problems—Yet
Mild bunions might not look super great when you look at them. They might even lead to occasional aches or struggles. But if you find you’re still able to accomplish your daily tasks and enjoy your favorite hobbies with minimal restrictions, surgery is almost certainly unnecessary.
That doesn’t mean you should ignore them, however!
Bunions are a progressive condition. Simply put, that means they don’t get better on their own. They get worse.
Does that mean that everyone with a bunion will end up needing surgery in the long run? No, not necessarily, although we won’t lie—most do.
That said, while your bunion will almost certainly get worse over time, you do have some control over the rate at which it gets worse, and the degree to which that bunion affects your life.
In other words, as soon as you notice that distinct-looking bump beginning to form near your toe, you need to stop by, get some friendly advice from your local podiatrist, and begin working on conservative treatment and prevention strategies.
The earlier you start, the longer you can delay the onset of more significant symptoms, as well as the need for surgery.
When Your Bunions Are Getting in the Way of Life
Now, if your bunions are getting to the point where your lifestyle is beginning to be more seriously affected and limited, bunion surgery becomes more of a realistic option.
That doesn’t mean it’s always the first choice, however! Sometimes there still may be an appropriate conservative treatment protocol that can provide relief. Surgery is a last resort, chosen only when nothing else can really give you the help you need.
Generally, the surgery conversation happens when you can check the following boxes:
Your bunion is causing you pain every day, and/or interfering with basic daily tasks. This one is pretty straightforward. If you can’t accomplish basic tasks anymore, intervention is urgently needed.
Your bunion is keeping you from the things you used to love. So maybe you can still do your “day to day” just fine, but you’ve had to give up something you truly love because it’s just too painful.
Maybe you’ve had to quit your Wednesday night bowling league because you’re in agony long before the 10th frame. Maybe you can’t go on hikes with your husband or take the dog for a long walk around the park anymore.
This is what we mean when we say “it’s time” is different for everyone—because everyone has different needs and goals. When something you love gets taken away, surgery to get it back is almost always worth it.
You’ve thoroughly attempted (and exhausted) any relevant conservative treatments, and they are no longer working. Like we said, surgery is a last resort. If we can help you achieve your lifestyle goals through conservative treatments like physical therapy, new shoes, or orthotics, we will.
What Can I Expect from Surgery?
There are actually a number of different bunion surgery procedures that can be performed. The best one for your situation will depend on factors such as your age, health, and lifestyle.
The good news is that the vast majority of bunion surgeries are very successful, with patients reporting high levels of satisfaction with their care in the months following surgery. We are highly trained and skilled at what we do. And while no one “enjoys” having to spend a couple of weeks off their feet, the trade-off—a new lease on a pain-free life—is more than worth it in the long run.
That said, the more severe your bunion is, the more likely we’ll need to use surgical procedures that are more invasive and produce less ideal results—for example, fusing your joints instead of simply realigning bones. As always, it’s best to stay ahead of the game. Don’t wait until your bunion hurts to get it checked out, and don’t wait until the pain is excruciating to consider surgery!
Although full healing can take several months, many people are back in regular shoes and performing normal activities within 6 weeks of surgery. Recovery times, of course, can vary depending on your physical health, the surgical procedure that was performed, and how well you follow your post-op recovery and rehab instructions.
So, is it “time” for you?
Either way, make sure you stop in and see Family Foot & Ankle Care of Jasper as soon as possible for solid advice and effective treatment options for your bunion. You can fill out our contact form online, or give us a call at (812) 481-7200.