Skip to content

    50+: Live Better, Longer

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Bunion Surgery Puts the Best Foot Forward

    By
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD

    May 15, 2001 -- Shoeless Joe Jackson probably never suffered from it, but about one-third of all adults who wear shoes have some degree of a painful deformity of the big toe, known to orthopaedic surgeons as hallux valgus, and to the rest of us as a bummer of a bunion. And when it comes to treating painful bunions, doing something is better than nothing, say Finnish surgeons.

    In a study of 209 patients with a painful bunion and hallux valgus, an inward deflection of the big toe, patients found a common corrective surgical procedure to be most effective at treating the condition, followed by the use of corrective shoe inserts (orthoses). Patients found watchful waiting -- essentially doing nothing -- to be the least satisfactory treatment alternative, report Marcus Torkki, MD and colleagues from the department of orthopaedic surgery at Helsinki University Central Hospital. Their study appears in the May 16 issue of TheJournal of the American Medical Association.

    A bunion is a deformity that usually occurs at the head of the first metatarsal bone, which connects the big toe to the arch of the foot. As the bunion grows, it forces the big toe to angle inward toward the center of the foot, causing the head of the first metatarsal bone to move outward and rub against the inside of the shoe. The friction in turn causes a painful inflammation of the underlying tissue, and formation of bony growths that can make walking very painful.

    The term hallux valgus refers to a type of bunion so severe that it causes the big toe and second toe to cross over one another.

    A tendency to develop bunions can be inherited, but bunions are also frequently caused by wearing shoes with narrow, pointed toes and high heels, which squeeze the toes and put the front part of the foot under extreme pressure. Not surprisingly, women suffer from bunions more frequently than men.

    "Although nonsurgical care is always the first option for a patient who has a hallux valgus deformity, hallux valgus surgery is among the most common orthopaedic operations in Western industrialized countries," Torkki and colleagues write.

    1 | 2 | 3

    Today on WebMD

    blueberries
    Eating for a longer, healthier life.
    woman biking
    How to stay vital in your 50s and beyond.
     
    womans finger tied with string
    Learn how we remember, and why we forget.
    man reviewing building plans
    Do you know how to stay healthy as you age?
     
    fast healthy snack ideas
    Article
    how healthy is your mouth
    Tool
     
    dog on couch
    Tool
    doctor holding syringe
    Slideshow
     
    champagne toast
    Slideshow
    Two women wearing white leotards back to back
    Quiz
     
    Man feeding woman
    Slideshow
    two senior women laughing
    Article