A bunion is a lump of bone that forms on the knuckle of your big toe, forcing it to press on the other toes. Its medical name is hallux valgus and it can become extremely painful over time.
Bunions are a common problem and tend to get larger and more painful over time. Sometimes the pain is so bad, it can prevent you from doing normal, everyday things like walking. Bunions can also start to force your second toe out of place.
Non-surgical treatments that can help to ease the pain include:
However, if these haven't helped and the pain is preventing you from living a normal life, surgery to remove your bunion could be the right option for you. It's a relatively straightforward operation and for most people, the benefits of pain reduction are much higher than any potential disadvantages.
The NHS might offer you the procedure if your pain is excessive, but to receive treatment faster by an expert surgeon in a premium hospital, Spire could be the right choice for you.
You may be referred to one of our expert surgeons via your own GP. We will aim to arrange for you to see one of our specialist consultants within a few days of your referral to us.
We pride ourselves on our clinical excellence, you'll be looked after by an experienced multi-disciplinary care team.
Our patients are at the heart of what we do and we want you to be in control of your care. To us, that means you can choose the consultant you want to see, and when you want. They'll be with you every step of the way.
All of our consultants are of the highest calibre and benefit from working in our modern, well-equipped hospitals.
Our consultants have high standards to meet, often holding specialist NHS posts and delivering expertise in complex sub-specialty surgeries. Many of our consultants have international reputations for their research in their specialised field.
You will have a formal consultation with a healthcare professional. During this time you will be able to explain your medical history, symptoms and raise any concerns that you might have.
We will also discuss with you whether any further diagnostic tests, such as scans or blood tests, are needed. Any additional costs will be discussed before further tests are carried out.
We've tried to make your experience with us as easy and relaxed as possible.
For more information on visiting hours, our food, what to pack if you're staying with us, parking and all those other important practicalities, please visit our patient information pages.
Our dedicated team will also give you tailored advice to follow in the run up to your visit.
We understand that having surgery can be a time of worry and anxiety - even for a relatively straightforward procedure like this one. Our experienced and caring medical staff will be there for you, holding your hand, every step of the way.
Bunion removal is usually carried out under general anaesthesia, which means you will be asleep throughout the procedure, but sometimes local anaesthetic can also be used.
There are many different surgical procedures to remove a bunion, and your consultant will discuss which procedure is best for you, but one of the most common types is called an osteotomy - also known as a bunionectomy.
If you have this kind of operation, which usually takes around 90 minutes, your surgeon will make a cut near your big toe to gain access to the bones in the joint. How this is done will depend on the type of bunion and its location.
The doctor may remove some bone and realign the joint, sometimes using small screws or wires to keep everything in place while you heal. These may be left in your foot or removed later, depending on the type of surgery. Afterwards your foot will either be bandaged tightly or put in a plaster cast for protection.
Another form of surgery is arthrodesis, which involves fusing two bones in your big toe joint together, but this is normally only used for people with severe deformities of the big toe joint.
After the procedure, you will be taken from the operating theatre to a recovery room, where you will come round from the anaesthesia under close supervision.
While you are in hospital a physiotherapist will help you every day with exercises that will help speed up your recovery.
Your foot will be sore after the operation and you may have some temporary bruising and swelling. We will give you pain relief medication while you’re with us and to take home with you.
We will provide you with a supply of all the medicines your consultant feels you need to take home with you after you've left hospital, up to 14 days. This may be at an additional cost to some patients.
Your consultant will advise you how to make your recovery as quick as possible but when you get home you’ll need to take things easy at first.
You may not be able to put your weight fully on the foot for six weeks, though you'll probably be able to walk around on your heel. If you can’t do this, you may need to use crutches.
You will probably have to take some time off work – how much will depend on the kind of operation you have had and how much time you spend on your feet at work.
You probably won’t be able to wear normal shoes for up to six months because you will have a cast or a bandage on and your foot or ankle could be swollen for three months, possibly longer. When the cast or bandages come off you will be given postoperative shoes. These are specially designed to allow heel walking while protecting your foot.
We will arrange for a physiotherapist to visit you in your private room after your operation to give you advice on how to move around safely in your cast or bandage. You can also see the physiotherapist again after these have been removed.
Once you’re ready to be discharged, you’ll need to arrange a taxi, friend or family member to take you home because you won’t be able to drive. You should also ask them to help with shopping and cleaning for a few weeks.
We’re with you every step of the way through your recovery, even after you’ve left hospital.
After bunion removal we will provide you with all the appropriate medication, physiotherapy exercises, advice on what you should and shouldn't do, and any other follow-up support you need. Typically your consultant may want to see you after your treatment to see how you’re doing, in which case a follow up appointment will be made before you leave the hospital.
On rare occasions, complications following surgery can occur. The chance of complications depends on the exact operation you are having and other factors such as your general health. Your consultant will talk to you about the possible risks and complications of having this procedure and how they apply to you.
If you have any questions or concerns about your recovery, we're ready to help.
We are committed to delivering excellent individual care and customer service across our network of hospitals, clinics and specialist care centres around the UK. Our dedicated and highly trained team aim to achieve consistently excellent results. For us it's more than just treating patients, it's about looking after people.
The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.
Spire Thames Valley Hospital is only a 10 minute drive from both the M4 and M40 motorways and we are less than half an hour from central London by train.
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