University Foot & Ankle Institute
Select a department...
  • University Foot & Ankle, a Preferred Provider to:
  • UCLA Health System - UCLA Medical Group
  • MPTF - Motion Picture Television Fund
  • And consulting physicians for:
  • C&S - Cedars-Sinai
  • Saint John's Health Center

Bunions (Hallux Valgus): Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options

Dr. Bob Baravarian explains what Bunions are, how they form and some of the advanced treatment options available to UFAI's patients.

At University Foot and Ankle Institute we believe in treating bunions conservatively; we truly try to avoid surgery whenever possible.

 

Technically, you can only “fix a bunion” with surgery, but many patients don't need it to get symptom relief. In its early stages, the progression of the bunion deformity can often be slowed through wearing better shoes and custom insoles )orthotics) that slip right into your shoes.

 

If surgery is necessary it is performed in our state-of-the-art out-patient surgical centers or hospital. In most cases, weight can immedietly be placed on the foot while wearing a comfortable walking boot. Pain control is an essential part of our approach and most patients report minimal to no need for pain medication.

Everything was explained to me in detail and all of my questions were totally answered prior to my toenail fungus treatment. My recovery was a breeze. I could not be happier with the care or the final result. Thanks for the great care. George

Bunions are categorized in one of three ways, mild, moderate or severe.  Below are some treatment options for each bunion category:

 

Mild Bunion Treatment

 

Bunion Surgery
Mild bunion deformity
Appointments available within 24 hours!
or call us: 877-989-9110

Removing pressure from the bunion area and balancing the tendon and ligament alignment are the primary goals of mild bunion treatment. For example, it is important to wear shoes that have sufficient room in the toe area to accommodate the bunion ─ that means softer leather shoes to mold to the deformity and platform type heels for better foot and arch support.

 

Your doctor may also advise the use of pads to protect the bunion from shoe pressure. Customized shoe inserts, called orthotics are made exclusively for your foot and are often used to correct the alignment of the arch and big toe joint. In some cases, physicians also use anti-inflammatory creams around the bunion.

 

Read about UFAI manufactured custom orthotics.

 

 

 

 

Moderate Bunions Treatment

 

Bunion treatment
Moderate bunion deformity

A bunion is considered moderate when it pushes against the second toe. In fact, over time, the big toe can force itself under the second toe, causing it to buckle and form a "hammer toe."

 

If non-invasive treatment is not effective, and the joint is still causing discomfort, the doctor may suggest a bunionectomy to realign the big toe. With this procedure, the bunion head is moved over realigning the angled great toe joint back to a normal position.  The tendons and ligaments are also balanced for a more normal pull on the toe.

 

In moderate bunion cases, you will experience a relatively rapid recovery. The procedure allows for immediate weight on the foot in a boot and return to tennis shoes in about a month. The choice of procedure best for each patient depends on the deformity size, the stiffness of the 1st metatarsal and the ease of realignment of the 1st metatarsal during the clinical exam. 

 

Learn about the different bunion surgeries performed by UFAI's foot surgeons.

 

 

 

Severe Bunions Treatment

 

Bunion treatment surgery
Severe bunion deformity

In severe hallux valgus bunion cases, the first long bone (metatarsal) in the foot dramatically shifts away from the second metatarsal, resulting in looseness and a large deformity. In severe bunion corrections, a surgery known as the Lapidus procedure realigns the first metatarsal into its natural position. Using screws, the surgery holds the bone stable so it does not shift again and reduces the change of the bunion returning to basically none.

 

Surgery may also involve removing the enlarged portion of the bunion region, cutting and realigning the bone, and correcting the position of the tendons and ligaments.

 

By using a special plate with Lapidus procedures, University Foot and Ankle Institute patients are able to put weight on their foot after only 2-3 weeks, rather than the typical 6-8 weeks of no weight. 

 

Read more about the different types of bunion surgeries performed by UFAI's bunions specialists.

 

 

 

UFAI, the wise choice for Bunion treatment

 

University Foot and Ankle Institute is at the forefront of bunion correction. We pride ourselves on educating patients about their foot condition and providing caring, appropriate treatment.

 

Our modern foot and ankle physical therapy services allow you to get moving faster and safer.  Since foot and ankle therapy is specialized, we work with our therapists to make sure they understand each patient’s specific needs and how to make a rapid recovery.

 

All this means a safer, shorter, happier and less painful recovery for our patients with the advantage of world-class bunion educators and specialists.

 

Appointments are now available within 24 hours!
Schedule a consult with our nationally-recognized bunion specialists

 

 

Our Patients Frequently Asked Questions about Bunions and Bunion Surgery  

 

Q: Is surgery the only way to fix a bunion?

 

Technically, you can only “fix a bunion” with surgery, but that does not mean that everyone needs surgery to get symptom relief. Conservative treatment can be very beneficial for some patients and, as a rule, we pride ourselves on creating an individualized treatment plan for each of our patients, based on their physical condition and personal lifestyle.

 

Q: Am I a candidate for bunion removal surgery?

 

A: Not everyone is a good candidate for a bunionectomy, and if a bunion is in its early stages, which we hope it is, we will want to consider less-invasive treatments. We want to avoid surgery whenever possible. Since bunions tend to worsen with time, early treatment is the best medicine.  

 

 

Q: Will I be able to walk right away after a bunionectomy?

 

You should be able to bear weight with the aid of a protective boot immediately after your bunionectomy. Some patients require crutches to aid them in walking for the first few days. Only the most severe bunion cases that require more comprehensive surgery require time off the foot.  Even in those cases, our doctors have shortened the typical time off the foot to only 2-3 weeks rather than 6-8 weeks. We will let you know when you can resume walking and other normal activities because we will be seeing you during your entire recovery.

 

Q: Will my bunion come back after surgery?

 

A: Bunionectomy is a very effective treatment in that it removes the bunion, relieving the pain and discomfort it can cause when walking and performing other activities. However, proper foot-care after surgery is essential to prevent bunions from coming back.  After we correct your bunion issue it is important to avoid the same things that helped cause the problem in the first place.  We know it can be difficult for some patients to avoid wearing high heels and other improper footwear, but it is more important for you to never suffer from bunions again.  As you recover we may suggest the use of corrective orthotics.

 

Q: Will I be under anesthesia during surgery?

 

A: Usually not general anesthesia, but a mild sedation helps you stay calm and immobile. Bunion specialists at University Foot and Ankle Institute perform most surgeries with IV sedation.

 

Q: Bunion surgery recovery: how much pain will I experience after my bunionectomy?

 

A: While patients do experience some pain after a bunionectomy, over the counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories are often all you need for effective relief.  University Foot and Ankle Institute is at the forefront of research on pain control following bunion surgery.  From long acting local anesthetics to creams that control swelling and pain, our emphasis is on “no pain” after surgery.