What is Hallux Valgus, How is the Surgery Performed?
Hallux valgus, also known as a bunion, is a deformity of the big toe joint that causes the big toe to deviate towards the other toes. This condition is characterized by the formation of a bony bump on the side of the foot, which can be painful and cause difficulty in walking or wearing certain types of shoes. Hallux valgus is more common in women and can be caused by various factors such as genetics, wearing tight or ill-fitting shoes, foot injuries, or certain medical conditions like arthritis.
When conservative treatments such as wearing wider shoes, using orthotic devices, or taking pain medications fail to provide relief, surgery may be recommended to correct the deformity and alleviate the symptoms associated with hallux valgus. The surgical procedure performed to treat hallux valgus is called a bunionectomy.
There are several different types of bunionectomy procedures, and the choice of procedure depends on the severity of the deformity and the patient’s individual needs. The most common types of bunionectomy procedures include:
1. Osteotomy: This procedure involves cutting and realigning the bones in the big toe joint. The surgeon may remove a small wedge of bone to straighten the toe or may make a series of small cuts to shift the bones into the correct position. Once the bones are realigned, they are held together with screws, wires, or plates until they heal.
2. Exostectomy: In this procedure, the surgeon removes the bony bump on the side of the foot without realigning the bones. This procedure is typically performed in less severe cases of hallux valgus where the joint is still relatively stable.
3. Arthrodesis: Also known as fusion, this procedure involves removing the damaged joint surfaces and fusing the bones together using screws, plates, or wires. This procedure is usually reserved for severe cases of hallux valgus or when other surgical options have failed.
4. Resection arthroplasty: In this procedure, the surgeon removes the damaged portion of the joint and reshapes the remaining bone to create a more functional joint. This procedure is typically performed in older patients or those with arthritis.
The surgical procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia, although local anesthesia with sedation may also be used. The surgeon makes an incision over the bunion and carefully exposes the underlying bones and soft tissues. The specific steps of the surgery depend on the chosen procedure.
After the surgery, the patient is usually required to wear a special surgical shoe or a cast to protect the foot and aid in the healing process. Physical therapy may also be recommended to help restore strength and mobility to the foot.
As with any surgical procedure, there are potential risks and complications associated with bunion surgery. These may include infection, bleeding, nerve damage, stiffness, recurrence of the deformity, or prolonged healing. It is important for patients to follow their surgeon’s post-operative instructions and attend all follow-up appointments to ensure proper healing and minimize the risk of complications.
In conclusion, hallux valgus, or a bunion, is a common foot deformity that can cause pain and difficulty in walking. When conservative treatments fail, surgery may be recommended to correct the deformity and alleviate the symptoms. The surgical procedure, known as a bunionectomy, involves realigning or removing the bony bump on the side of the foot. The specific procedure chosen depends on the severity of the deformity and the patient’s individual needs. While there are potential risks and complications associated with surgery, proper post-operative care and follow-up can help ensure a successful outcome.