23 January 2018
Your foot is an evolutionary marvel. It is made up of 26 bones, 33 joints and 42 muscles all working together with more than 50 ligaments and tendons to carry you around every day. Through the foot's many moving parts it handles hundreds of tons of force every day, moving us about. The stress of all this movement puts the foot at high risk of developing problems.
Various conditions affect feet whether through irritation from an ill-fitting shoe, injury or indeed from inherited conditions such as bunions, known as Hallux Valgus.
Many people suffer in silence and frequently suffer embarrassment with their feet. They resign themselves to wearing lace up shoes and never displaying their feet in public. Bunions are a common condition, which can be treated but if they are left unchecked, often cause misery to many people.
Bunions (Hallux Valgus)
Hallux valgus is a mal-alignment of the big toe, which goes off at an angle towards the second toe. The foot gets wider and the fitting of shoes becomes very difficult. It usually runs in families but can also be secondary to a number of general conditions, for instance, rheumatoid arthritis. If hallux valgus is left unchecked it will usually cause over crowding of the other toes and excessive pressure problems in the ball of the foot.
Medical research suggests that bunions need to be treated before the big toe pushes the other toes out of alignment. This means treating them early before they get too bad.
The options for treating a bunion include changes in footwear, using night splints or special insoles in the shoe. Unfortunately, none of these treatment options have any evidence to support their effectiveness. The only effective treatment for a bunion is to surgically correct the mal-alignment of the bones.
It is best to seek an expert opinion if you have bunions in order to discuss what is best for you and your feet.
Specialist will guide you through the options to find a treatment that is right for you depending on the severity of your bunion, the flexibility of your foot and other factors.
Recovery from bunion surgery
If you decide to have surgery to correct your bunion there will be a period of recovery needed depending on the exact procedure undertaken.
An excellent procedure to correct a bunion is called a scarf osteotomy. This type of operation is stable and allows you to walk afterwards. Walking will be limited for a period of time; you will have dressings and need to rest. You do not need a cast or crutches and while the average healing time is around six weeks you should be back in trainers, or similar after two weeks.
Mr Eoin Baldwin is a consultant podiatric surgeon at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital. He has over 30 years’ experience and has performed over 19,000 foot operations. Enquiries can be made by contacting Spire Gatwick Park Hospital on 01293 778 906.