Bunion surgery

Bunion surgery is an operation to correct a bunion - a deformity of the joint at the bottom of your big toe.

I have a question about bunion surgery

What is a bunion?

A bunion is a bony lump that forms on the side of your foot, at the base of the big toe. If a bunion becomes worse over time it can cause further problems, such as arthritis in the joint of the big toe.

What causes bunions to appear on feet?

The cause of a bunion is unknown. Possible reasons for bunions on your feet include:

  • A joint deformity such as your big toe joint bending outwards (hallux valgus)
  • A genetic tendency
  • Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Previous foot injuries
  • Wearing badly fitting shoes

What are the symptoms of a bunion?

Not all people get bunion foot pain; the most obvious symptom of a bunion is an angular, bony bump on the side of the foot. This might be covered with sore skin.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Your big toenail pointing inwards towards other toes
  • The foot becoming wider so shoes may not fit
  • Pain on walking, standing, running or squatting
  • Unusual tenderness at the base of the big toe and in the ball of the foot, caused by swelling and inflammation around the joint
  • Hard, callused, red skin where your toes overlap

How are bunions diagnosed?

Your GP should be able to diagnose bunions on your feet based on the pain you’re experiencing and the shape of your toe.

They can refer you for further tests at Benenden Hospital, such as x-rays, to determine the severity of your condition. Blood tests may also be recommended to investigate whether arthritis could be causing your pain.

What are common bunions treatments?

If painkillers, bunion pads or orthotic aids (such as wearing insoles) are unsuccessful at managing the symptoms of bunions, then osteotomy surgery will usually be recommended. The type of surgery you undergo will be discussed with your Consultant beforehand. It’ll depend on the exact condition you have, its severity, the shape of your foot and whether you have any wear and tear (osteoarthritis) in the joint.

Surgery is a successful treatment for around 90% of people, helping to relieve bunion foot pain and improving the straightness of the big toe.

What are the different types of bunion surgery?

Chevron osteotomy

This is the most common bunion removal surgery and is ideal for less severe bunions. The end of the long bone leading to the big toe (metatarsal) is cut and rotated to straighten the big toe. Your surgeon may also make soft tissue adjustments around the joint.

Scarf and Akin osteotomies

In a scarf osteotomy, the bone is cut and re-joined to improve the alignment of the toe, alleviate the pain associated with the condition and reduce the pressure caused by the big toe jamming against the other toes.

The operation is carried out through one cut on the foot, to the side of the big toe. A tendon is adjusted to bring the toe into the correct position before the bone is cut and realigned. The bone is then fixed with screws and the joint is repaired to keep the toe straight.

In some severe cases, an additional procedure called an Akin osteotomy may be needed to achieve good correction and alignment.

What happens during bunion surgery?

The osteotomy may be carried out under a general anaesthetic (so you’ll be asleep) or a local anaesthetic (so you’ll stay awake but won’t feel anything). The operation usually takes around an hour and you’ll usually be able to go home on the same day.

Our Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeons

Mr Southgate

Crispin Southgate

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

Mr Southgate's specialties include knee surgery, hip revision surgery, hip surgery and sports injuries.

Mr Dunning

Michael Dunning

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

Mr Dunning's specialities include hallux valgus surgery, sports injuries of the foot and ankle and arthrodesis surgery.

Mr Dhinsa

Baljinder Singh Dhinsa

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

Mr Singh Dhinsa's specialties include hallux valgus surgery and management of foot and ankle conditions

Contact us about bunion surgery

It's easy to find out more about treatment by giving us a call or completing our enquiry form.