Bunions are one of the most common foot deformities we see at Comprehensive Foot and Ankle Centers, and one we have a lot of experience treating—both surgically and non-surgically. That includes the advanced Lapiplasty bunion surgery procedure for a much faster return to weight-bearing and lower risk of recurrence, which is discussed in greater detail below.

Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t even come to see us until the bump on their foot is very large, causing a lot of pain, and disrupting their daily lives in a major way. Mostly, they’re afraid that the “cure” is going to be worse than the condition. But that just isn’t true!

While we can provide effective relief for a bunion at any stage, the earlier you see us, the more options—including non-surgical options—you’ll have. There’s no reason to wait until constant pain forces your hand!

foot with bunion on white background

What Is a Bunion? What Are the Symptoms?

A bunion is a foot deformity characterized by a number of common signs and symptoms:

  • A large, bony bump forms along the inside of the foot, at the base of the big toe.
  • The big toe itself drifts out of position, with the tip of the big toe pushing toward (and sometimes even overtop of) the second toe.
  • In most cases, the first metatarsal bone (which links the big toe to the tarsal bones of the midfoot) is also shifted outward, upward, and rotated from its normal position.

Bunions are progressive, meaning that without treatment the bunion will only get worse with time. As the condition becomes more severe, it may become harder and harder to fit into normal shoes, and harder and harder to perform daily tasks without pain. 

Calluses, corns, blisters, and other painful skin irritations may develop in spots where the foot rubs against the inside of your shoe, or where toes rub against one another.

What Causes Bunions?

The vast majority of bunions are believed to be genetically inherited to at least some degree. Essentially, you were likely born with a certain foot shape or structure that is prone to developing the kinds of joint instability that ultimately lead to bunion formation.

This is why bunions tend to run in families. If several close family members also have or had bunions, there’s a good chance you will too—although it’s not a certainty!

What about wearing high heels or tight shoes? Different doctors and researchers actually disagree over whether wearing bad shoes can actually cause a bunion in a “normal” foot without there also being a genetic, structural component at the same time. 

However, it does seem pretty clear that poor shoes can “trigger” the early formation of bunions if you are already predisposed to getting them, and they can definitely make an existing bunion more painful and develop at a faster rate. Check out this blog for tips on how to choose shoes that can help you prevent, delay, or slow the progression of a bunion.

doctor examining patient with a bunion

Do All Bunions Require Surgery?

No, not necessarily. But if you want to prevent surgery, or at least delay it as long as you possibly can, it’s essential that you seek treatment as early as possible. This means before you even start to notice any painful symptoms or difficulties wearing shoes.

In these early stages, we can often use conservative therapies like taping, splinting, physical therapy, shoe changes, and custom orthotics to keep your feet comfortable and allow you to continue your regular activities unimpeded.

However, once the bunion starts to cause daily pain or keeps you from participating in activities you used to enjoy, surgery is usually inevitable. However, it’s not all bad news, because our office specializes in a sophisticated form of bunion surgery that offers much faster recovery and better long-term results than conventional approaches!

Read this blog for more information about conservative treatment options, and how to determine when it’s time for surgery.

Feet hanging off a platform

Introducing Lapiplasty 3D Bunion Correction

This is a revolutionary new way to treat bunions that offers much faster practical recovery, significantly improved anatomical correction, and significantly reduced long-term risk of bunion recurrence when compared to traditional forms of bunion surgery.

In a conventional bunion osteotomy, the surgeon cuts the metatarsal bone, shifts the front half over, and shaves down the bump. The result is a foot that looks “normal” on the outside, but it’s not a true fix. Under the skin, the bone is still crooked and the fundamental instability that caused the bunion in the first place remains.

With Lapiplasty, we use a specialized tool to fully rotate and realign the metatarsal back into the proper anatomical position before any cuts are made to the bone. Then, innovative low-profile titanium plates are inserted to stabilize the joint between the metatarsal and tarsal bones—which is the root cause of most bunions.

This means that a bunion treated with Lapiplasty doesn’t just “look” correct from the outside. It is corrected, inside and out, with the root cause also taken care of.

The benefits of this approach are huge:

  • Much faster return to weight-bearing—usually within a few days of the procedure.
  • Much lower risk of recurrence—by some studies, your risk of re-developing a bunion after Lapiplasty is 12 times lower than after a conventional bunion osteotomy.

Read our blog on Lapiplasty for a more in-depth exploration of the procedure.

The Best Time to Treat a Bunion Is Always Right Now

Whether your bunion has just started to form, or it’s been with you for years, there is no reason to delay seeking our help. From conservative management strategies to a reliable long-term surgical fix, we can provide exactly the care you need to eliminate your discomfort and ensure the long-term health and function of your feet!

To request an appointment with the team at Comprehensive Foot and Ankle Centers, complete our online contact form or give us a call at (816) 455-1155.