I’m brand new on this forum, and was thrilled to discover it this morning! I also am trying to decide whether to have bunion surgery. I saw my new pod yesterday in an appointment to be fitted for new orthotics, and the conversation veered from orthotics to bunion surgery, so since then I’ve been deeply involved in bunion surgery research.
I’m a 54 year old woman who is pretty active—a couple of miles of walking every day, 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer, and lots of yard/garden work when the yard isn’t covered in snow. I’ve had bad feet as long as I can remember—I was born with a hammer toe, have extremely high arches, and have ankles that flex & rotate way more than they should. I’ve worn orthotics for several years, and have never worn high heels or dress shoes.
I saw a different pod a few months ago, who diagnosed me with plantar fasciitis, and said that my bunion could be contributing to that, but the guy yesterday didn’t seem to think much of that connection. For years I’ve had periodic (every few months) bouts of intense debilitiating pain along the sole of my foot that brings an abrupt halt to any walking. The pain typically goes away within a few days, and I’m back to normal. Does anyone know about 'other' foot pain like that being caused by bunions?
My new pod (who I really like, btw) admits he is quite opinionated about doing bunion surgery before the bunion gets really bad, because recovery is much more likely to be successful. I think that makes complete sense, and what I’ve read in this forum seems to back that up. He says my left bunion (the worse one) is ‘moderate to severe’, and that is the foot I have the most problems with.
My biggest hesitation is going ahead with the surgery now because I don’t have much pain with the bunion. Everything I’ve read online talks about not doing the surgery unless you have pain that limits your daily activity. It’s hard to find shoes, yes, and my last new pair of wide hiking shoes (which is what I wear all the time) took forever to break in because of bunion pain, but other than that, pretty much no pain. In the last couple of months it does seem like the bunion is getting worse, because it’s red & chafed all the time now. So logically I can see it isn’t likely to heal itself, is probably getting worse now, and maybe I should just go ahead with the surgery. But I’m having trouble convincing myself to sign up for weeks of inactivity after the surgery when right now I can be as active as I want now.
My goal is to be able to remain as active as I can for as many years as I can, and if that means a few weeks of inactivity now, then that's a fair deal. My dogs' goal is also for me to remain as active as I can for as long as I can, since they count on those walks every day!
Thanks for any thoughts you all might have on my bunion surgery decision!
Last edited by mod-anon; 12-11-2008 at 01:26 PM.
Reason: starting a new thread with this post.
While I don't normally share my opinion in situations like this, I have to say I agree with Debbie. I would wait until I was in quite a bit of pain before having surgery. If you are still active and have a satisfying life, I would wait.
While only you can decide what is best for you, I can offer you what decision I made for my bunion afflicted right foot. Mine would ache after a long day on it, and I also experienced shooting pains in the joint. None of this was debilitaing, but I decided that I would be better off taking care of it with surgery before it got any worse. Plus, i did it at a time that was convenient to be in bed for 1 week. Since I am relatively young and adventurous, I was back at work after a week (I was a biology graduate student at the time), and moved around the lab in a rolling chair. At any rate, I am happy with the decision I made. This is not a one sized fits all thing though. Just be aware that not all recoveries are long and arduous. Most of the good ones just don't get written about.
I am 30 and decided to do it last year when I was trying to sleep at night and the bunion kept me awak. when I turned over on my side and my bunion would hurt if it was pressing on the bed, and forget about being able to have my feet touch together, even the blanket pulling on it hurt. This was mostly because as the day wore on it got more and more painful and then when I tried to sleep it would keep me awake.
I was just about your age when I had to have bunion surgery.
I had severe bunions and they were moderate during my teen years.
Pain was not a huge issue unless I wore heels (which only happened with parties or weddings).
I just wore shoes that were at least one size too large to accommodate my severly deformed feet.
This caused me to fall twice and almost break my ankles.
The pain of the bunion became less because some of the bone had become non-vital.
BUT PAIN WAS NOT AN ISSUE SEPARATING JOINTS WERE
The reason that I had to have the surgery performed was because the great toe on one foot was so angled that it was pushing the long bone of the second toe out of it's socket. I could feel the bone protruding from the bottom of the foot.
So, having waited soooo long to have my feet fixed caused a lot more complications than I would have had to endure HAD I HAD THEM CORRECTED EARLIER
I am now so much better off now. However, the surgery for me was not without complications and difficulty.
Find yourself the best foot person that you can. Someone who really knows what they are talking about.
Do not discount PODs over ortho guys. I went to both and the ortho guy (an area expert on the foot) was way out in left field with his treatment plan.
I just felt that the POD really knew what he was talking about.
He was decent and well informed. I had many problems and he worked through each of them with me in an intelligent manner.
Board certification completely necessary and ask how many of these procedures have they performed.
My feelings are that I waited too long.
Outcome is variable but I am very satisfied. But, that doesn't mean that I don't have small issues.
This decision is so individual. I have heard many say that you need to be dramatically impacted by your bunion in order to feel that the surgery and recovery are worth it.
I've had bunions since birth and always had trouble finding shoes, but had been an active person til this year when my bunions stopped me cold and I couldn't walk more than 20 minutes without pain, couldn't squat down to get things on the floor, since flexing my toes was out, etc.
I'm currently 5 days post op from a Keller Bunionectomy. My Doc says he wishes he could have operated on me 30 years ago. But I didn't have pain then. NOW he has found (during surgery) that I have NO cartilage left in my great toe joint where the bunion was. He saw some of that from Xrays but it was more dramatic when he operated. He was amazed I've been handling the pain of bone on bone in the joint.
He says that people with bad bunions can learn to live with alot of pain that they get used to over time without relaizing it. He diagnosed bunions, plantar fasciatis, shin splints, hammer toes. The latter were creating forefoot pain(ball of foot) that was the first symptom for me. I though I had neuromas. After 4-6 months of expanding symptoms my bunions finally started hurting along with everything else.
So the end of this story is that if I had had surgery earlier when the joint had not developed so much arthritis I could have had the more modern surgery that preserves the joint. As it is I had the Keller, which produces a weaker big toe since the surgery removes the joint end of the big toe bone and replaces the joint with a pad of tissue. I'm hoping diligent PT restores my big toe strength, and my doc expects me to be climbing mountains and hiking again.
Get several second opinions. I interviewed 3 doc before finding one that I felt comfortable with. He has been a Pod for 40 years and specializes in sports injuries. He expects his patients to want as much activity as possible rather than being sedentary.
Hope this helps...I can go on and on, stuck in this chair....