Foot & Ankle

Bunions & Toes

What are bunions?

Bunions, also known as hallux valgus, are a bony bump that develops on the joint at the base of the big toe. This condition causes the big toe to be crooked and lean towards the other toes rather than pointing straight ahead. The malalignment of the big toe joint can cause pain, swelling, and difficulty walking, as well as the development of corns and calluses on the affected area.

Bunions or hallux valgus is a common foot condition that is often hereditary, although it can also be caused by wearing tight or narrow shoes that put pressure on the toes and joints. Women are more likely to develop bunions than men, and the risk increases with age.

In addition to causing discomfort and difficulty walking, bunions can also lead to other foot problems, such as hammertoes, where the toes curl downwards and become stuck in that position, and bursitis, which is inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs that cushion the bones, tendons, and muscles near the joint.

Non-surgical treatment options for bunions may include wearing shoes with a wider toe box and lower heels, using protective pads or cushions, and using custom-made orthotics to help stabilize the foot and correct the alignment of the joint. In some cases, physical therapy may be recommended to strengthen the muscles and improve flexibility in the foot.

Surgical treatment options for bunions may include removing the bony bump and realigning the joint, or fusing the joint to prevent further misalignment. The specific surgical option will depend on the severity of the bunion and the presence of other foot problems.

What is minimally invasive bunion surgery?

Minimally invasive bunion surgery is a surgical technique that uses smaller incisions and specialized instruments to treat bunions or hallux valgus. This approach to bunion surgery is designed to minimize damage to the surrounding tissues and reduce recovery time for patients.

During minimally invasive bunion surgery, the surgeon makes small incisions near the affected joint and uses a specialised burr rather than a saw to remove or realign the bony bump and correct the alignment of the joint. This technique often involves less disruption to the soft tissue and bone structures than traditional bunion surgery, which can reduce pain, swelling, and scarring after the procedure.

Minimally invasive bunion surgery is performed under a general anesthesia. Day surgery is an option depending on how much surgery is required and the general health of the patient. Patients will still need to take time to rest and avoid strenuous activities to allow the foot to heal just like with open surgery.

While minimally invasive bunion surgery can be an effective option for some patients, it is not suitable for all cases of bunions or hallux valgus.

Which is better: minimally invasive bunion surgery or open bunion surgery?

Whether minimally invasive bunion surgery or open bunion surgery is better depends on various factors, such as the severity of the bunion, the patient’s overall health, and the surgeon’s experience and preference. Both minimally invasive and open bunion surgeries have their advantages and disadvantages.

Minimally invasive bunion surgery involves smaller incisions and specialized instruments, which can lead to less damage to surrounding tissues, reduced pain, and faster recovery times. This approach can also have a lower risk of infection and scarring. However, not all bunions can be treated with minimally invasive surgery, and the procedure may take longer to perform than open surgery.

Open bunion surgery involves making a larger incision over the affected joint to remove or realign the bony bump and correct the alignment of the joint. This approach allows the surgeon greater access to the affected area and may be more effective for severe cases of bunions, or if there are other problems such as painful sesamoid bones. However, open surgery may require a longer recovery time and may cause more scarring and pain than minimally invasive surgery.