GREENWICH, Conn. -- As sandals return to the wardrobe this summer, the disfiguring prominences known as bunions can present cosmetic and physical problems for those suffering from the foot condition. Bunions can be extremely painful, making it difficult to find shoes that don’t put pressure on the area or cause more discomfort.
While there's no explanation why some people develop bunions and others do not, bunions can arise at any time from adolescence through retirement. The condition does affect women more than men though, and studies have shown that wearing high heeled shoes tends to exacerbate the problem.
"Treatment for bunions varies depending on the severity," said Dr. Sean Peden, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in foot and ankle surgery and orthopedic trauma at ONS. "Ice, anti-inflammatories and orthotics can help alleviate pain. However, if a bunion is not addressed early, the pain can become disabling and require surgery to realign the bones, ligaments and tendons to bring the big toe back to its correct position."
In the past, bunion surgery required a cumbersome foot cast. Now, new techniques, materials, and an emphasis on maintaining mobility through the healing process has made bunion surgery much less of an ordeal. Casts are rarely applied, patients normally use crutches for one to three weeks and complete recovery takes two to four months.
"Having bunion surgery in the summer has many advantages over the winter months," said Dr. Peden. "Navigating ice and snow while recovering can be hazardous, and the recovery shoe, which is essentially an open-toe sandal, is much easier to deal with in the warmer months. After that, almost any open sandal would be more comfortable that putting your healing foot in a shoe."
Despite the medical advances and reduced recovery time, a bunionectomy is not a procedure to undergo on a whim, and cosmetics alone are not a good reason to have the surgery. People with bunions that impact the quality of their daily lives should consult with a specialist to learn which treatment option is most appropriate.
Dr. Peden will be speaking about foot and ankle conditions at Greenwich Hospital on Monday, June 20 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 pm.