Bye-Bye to Bunions: November 10, 2012

Whether you’re coming or going, bunions are a painful foot ailment that often rubs people the wrong way. Amy Saracino battled bunions for years.

“As I got older you could see the protrusion starting on my foot,” says Saracino, bunion sufferer.

An abnormality of the big toe joint. Bunions form when the big toe pushes up against the other toes, forcing the joint in the opposite direction. There are several treatments, depending on severity.

“Sometimes just a simple matter of wearing wider shoes, or more supportive shoes, can help most people.  Or at least slows the process down,” says Dr. Andrew Belis, podiatrist and foot/ankle surgeon on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.

Saying goodbye to bunions can require surgery. If the problem is bio-mechanically based, it’s often the next step.

If the bunion is bio-mechanically based, surgery is often the next step.

“The first technique that I would describe would be more just shaving the bump and doing some simple tendon lengthening options,” says Dr. Belis.

When the deformity is more severe, doctors may use something new called the tight rope procedure.

“That would be to use a suture through the two bones, to bring them together.  It acts like a little tightrope to hold these two bones together so that they don’t splay apart again thus recreating the bunion,” says Dr. Belis.

The next level up is surgery to shift the bone to better alignment and hold it in place.

“There’s some absorbable options now, which are just basically absorbable pins or screws,” says Dr. Belis.

So far, Saracino has side stepped surgery, keeping tabs on her toes.

“Who knows... Depending on how treatments change, I’d look into it saying ‘oh I can get that fixed? Let’s get it fixed’,” says Saracino.

And there are many options to help bunion sufferers put their best foot forward.