Bunions Can Occur at Any Age
When surgery is done correctly, reoccurrence of the bunion is less than 5%, Hutchinson says.
The surgery includes cutting and realigning the bone and correcting alignment of adjacent ligaments and tendons. If the joint already is arthritic, meaning that the cartilage has deteriorated, then the joint probably will have to be replaced with an artificial one or it will have to be fused, experts say.
Scott Ashton, DPM, a podiatrist at Medical City Dallas Hospital, agrees that just removing the bump is only cosmetic.
"A bunion is caused by an increase in the angle between the two lower bones of the big toe," Ashton tells WebMD. Surgery is definitely called for if the angle between the toe bones is more than 12%, and he often sees patients whose angle has reached 18-20%.
"The key to correction is to close the joint angle to less than 8%," Ashton says. From a technical standpoint, he believes anyone can have the surgery unless they have major health problems, for instance, "soft bones" or some other condition that would make it difficult to recover and go through rehabilitation. He has done surgery for people as young as 11.
"From a strictly technical standpoint, it can be done on any age," he says. But he cautions that in the case of a youngster, care must be taken not to disturb the growth plates.
If your big toe is angling toward your other toes and you are having pain in the area of the joint, you should ask your doctor to recommend a podiatrist who is board certified in foot surgery or an orthopaedist who has done a fellowship in that specialty.