Foot Pain Treatment: Podiatrist Talks Bunion Causes, Pain & Treatment Part 2

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Have a bunion that you would like to see go away? You're not the only one. Check out Part 2 of our interview with podiatrist Dr. Weil and get all the info you need. If you missed Part One, check it out!

Dr. Weil, just how common are bunions?

A study published in 2010 looked at almost 500,000 people and found that 23% of people from 18-65 years old had bunions and over 65 years old 35.7% had bunions.

So what do we do if we need surgery to fix a bunion problem?

When typcial alternatives are not effective, surgery is a consideration. Surgery should be considered when the bunions are influencing someones lifestyle. That could mean that people who have to wear high heels for work, can't do so because of the pain.

It can also mean that someone can't work out comfortably and wants to eliminate that pain.  Bunion correction is performed to relieve the pain. Bunion correction is commonly performed today with excellent results and long term success.  

What does bunion correction consist of?

We have pioneered a procedure (the SCARF bunionectomy) that allows us to correct bunions on both feet at the same time.  Our patients have found very little pain post operatively and are consistently surprised by the lack of pain.  After one week, patients return to athletic shoes and can begin bathing, walking a bit, driving a car, return to work and working out off their feet.  

At 6-8 weeks after surgery, most of our patients return to their preferred, casual shoes and working out on their feet.  It takes 4-5 months for full healing but most say they are better than before surgery at 2 months.  Recurrence of bunions after surgery is rare and we have found only 2-3% have symptomatic recurrence. While bunion surgery is not performed for cosmetic reasons, patients are thrilled with their cosmetic results.

Any tips for alleviating bunions and foot pain caused from them?

Make sure your shoes fit properly.  As bunions progress, the front of the foot gets wider.  While it may be challenging to find shoes that accommodate this width, it is very possible.  

Higher heels usually bother bunions as do pointed-toe shoes.  Open-toed shoes and sandals usually make bunions tolerable.  However they may not hide the deformity.  

Applying vaseline to bunion area before wearing those "killer" shoes may help reduce the irritation on the bunion so it is more tolerable.  When working out, try to find the athletic shoes that give space and use the vaseline method in those circumstances as well.

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