Hallux valgus (bunion) treatment

What is it?

A bunion is a lump of bone that forms on the knuckle of your big toe forcing the big toe across and to press on the other (little) toes. Over time bunions can become larger and more painful. It is sometimes very severe; it can prevent you from doing everyday activities. Bunions can also force your second toe out of place.

Diagnosis and treatment options

Your consultant will examine you and ask you to demonstrate certain movements to check how well your foot is working. You might need some additional tests, which will be fully discussed with you during your appointment. These may be: 

  • X-ray
  • Ultrasound
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan

Treatments for bunions include:

  • Non-surgical treatment such as painkillers, bunion pads, shoe insoles etc
  • Bunion removal surgery

You may be recommended surgery if non-surgical treatments do not improve your pain or are unsuccessful. There are many different surgical procedures to remove bunions and your consultant will discuss which procedure is best for you. During surgery, your consultant will remove the bunion by making a cut near your big toe to gain access to the bones in the joint. The consultant may remove some bone and realign the joint. Afterwards your foot will either be bandaged tightly or put in a plaster cast for protection.

The surgical procedure is performed under a general anaesthetic and is performed as a daycase. Recovery is dependent upon the underlying problem being addressed but usually requires four to six weeks in dressing support on the foot.

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