If you suffer from bunions, you know the pain of a deformity that happens when the base of your big toe pushes outward. Bunions are often thought to be hereditary, and they occur more in women who tend to wear uncomfortable shoes for the sake of fashion.

As much as 25% of all adults 18 to 65 will develop bunions, and by age 65 that number jumps to 36%.  

If you’re in pain, you might be curious about having a bunionectomy. Here’s what you should know before choosing surgery.

It’s a last resort.
Your podiatrist will want to try non-invasive pain relief methods first—including ice, properly fitted shoes, certain pain medications or cortisone shots. If relief isn’t happening and the pain is limiting your life, surgery should be considered.

It may be mild, moderate or severe.
There are a variety of surgical procedures to deal with each type of bunion. Surgery usually occurs with moderate bunions and likely entails shaving down the bump and correcting the angular deformity of your toe joints.

You’ll need to recover.
For most moderate bunions, you’ll wear a special boot for 3 to 4 weeks, and it will take at least 6 to 8 weeks to completely heal. Recovery will include bruising and swelling but pain varies among patients.

You might need physical therapy.

The presence of scar tissue may cause stiffness which can be addressed with massages, stretches, and physical therapy. Most doctors won’t release you for running and jumping for at least three months.

You don’t want to wait too long.
If your bunion becomes severe, your surgery will be much more complex. That means you may need to have your toe joints replaced or have bones fused together. The recovery will be longer too.

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