Comprised of bone and soft tissue, a bunion is a growth that occurs at the first joint, or the base, of the big toe. Typically forming as the result of restrictive or poor-fitting footwear as well as inflammation, a bunion creates a painful lump, which forces the big toe to buckle and push sideways toward the second toe. Over time, this can cause painful foot deformities. A healthcare professional may recommend a bunionectomy, which is the surgical removal of a bunion, especially in cases where bunions continue to grow in size and cause pain even after other forms of treatment, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, shoe inserts, or special footwear.
Bunion removal surgery involves more than simply removing the bony growth. The surgeon also will remove overgrowth and bursa, which is a fluid-filled sac. Then, depending on the severity of the growth, he or she may shorten and straighten the phalanx bone of the big toe and realign the foot. If the joint is arthritic or damaged beyond repair, the surgeon may reconstruct the joint or replace it with an artificial joint.
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks involved, including stiffness, numbness, infection, bunion recurrence, nerve damage, and pain.