When painful bunions make getting around difficult and conservative treatments fail to provide relief, bunion surgery might be necessary to alleviate pain and restore mobility. These procedures can be transformative for patients living with severe bunion pain or discomfort. However, they aren’t for everyone. Here’s what you should know about bunions, what to expect from bunion surgery, and how Yavapai Foot and Ankle Center can provide expert care and guidance throughout your bunion treatment journey.
Dr. John (Todd) Cox Provides Expert Bunion Care for Prescott-Quad City Area Patients
Bunions are more than just a bony bump at the base of the big toe—they're a progressive podiatric deformity caused by a misalignment of the metatarsophalangeal (big toe) joint. As the first metatarsal bone shifts within the foot, it causes the phalanx bones in the big toe to tilt toward the smaller toes, leading to the characteristic bony protrusion. Bunions worsen over time without proper care, which is why it’s best to catch them early and seek professional treatment as soon as you can.
At Yavapai Foot and Ankle Center, our board-certified podiatric surgeon and bunion expert, Dr. John (Todd) Cox, DPM, treats bunions at all stages of development. He strives to keep patients out of surgery, prioritizing conservative therapies whenever possible. For patients who do require bunion surgery, Dr. Cox offers wide-ranging surgical options.
Common Types of Bunion Surgery
Bunion correction isn’t one size fits all. Several surgical techniques exist to meet various needs. Here’s an overview of some of the most common types of bunion surgery and what they entail.
In an osteotomy, your podiatric surgeon makes precise cuts in the bone to realign the joint, reducing the bunion's prominence and correcting the misalignment. By carefully repositioning the affected bones, this procedure aims to restore proper joint alignment and eliminate bunion pain and discomfort.
Bunionectomies are a popular surgical option for bunions that cause ongoing discomfort. This procedure involves the removal of the bony bump (exostectomy) or the bunion itself (resection arthroplasty) to relieve pain and improve joint function. Your podiatrist determines which specific bunionectomy technique to use depending on the extent of the joint damage and how much repair is required.
Fusion surgeries (arthrodesis) join the first metatarsal bone and the big toe’s proximal phalanx bone to eliminate pain and stabilize the joint. However, because these procedures permanently immobilize the big toe joint, they’re often reserved for particularly severe bunions or patients for whom other options are unsuitable.
Minimally Invasive Surgery
Minimally invasive bunion surgery uses smaller incisions and specialized instruments to correct bunions. For some patients, these surgical techniques may result in less scarring and faster recovery times.
Preparing for Bunion Surgery
Your journey toward better-feeling and better-looking feet starts with a consultation at our podiatry office in Prescott. During this appointment, Dr. Cox conducts a thorough exam, discusses your symptoms and medical history, and guides you through your treatment options. He may also use X-rays or advanced imaging studies such as MRI or CT scans to evaluate the metatarsophalangeal joint damage and inform your care.
If you and Dr. Cox decide on a surgical approach, he’ll explain the procedures available, along with any potential risks and complications. He might ask you to stop smoking or work with other members of your health care team to better manage your blood sugar or blood pressure, if necessary, in preparation for the procedure. Other ways to prepare for bunion surgery include rearranging your living space to make it easier to get around with crutches after your operation and enlisting family and friends to assist you with transportation and other tasks during the early days of your recovery.
Our office provides you with a complete list of preoperative instructions to ensure you’re ready for a successful surgery.
What to Expect as You Recover From Bunion Surgery
Recovering from bunion surgery is a gradual process—and how long it takes depends on the severity of the bunion and the surgical technique used to correct it. Some postoperative pain, swelling, and discomfort is normal. Rest assured, we’ll provide thorough at-home care instructions and prescribe medications, as needed, to help you manage them. Here’s an overview of what to expect during a typical bunion surgery recovery.
Weeks One and Two
Get your recovery off to a good start by taking it easy for the first two weeks following surgery, keeping weight off the affected foot, and elevating and icing it to help manage swelling. You’ll wear a splint, cast, or special boot to protect the surgical area and can use crutches or a walker to aid mobility. Get plenty of rest and eat a healthy, balanced diet to encourage optimal healing.
Weeks Two to Six
Over the next few weeks, you'll gradually transition to partial weight-bearing under our guidance as we continue monitoring your healing process. We may recommend beginning physical therapy to help improve mobility and strengthen the foot and ankle.
Weeks Six to 12
You’ll progress from partial to bearing full weight on the affected foot around six weeks after surgery. In weeks six through 12, physical therapy typically becomes more intensive, focusing on restoring normal joint movement and muscle strength. We’ll also evaluate your progress and determine whether you need orthotics or special shoes to support the realigned joint.
Three Months and Beyond
While you'll regain mobility and gradually return to your normal activities, complete healing can take several months. Following Dr. Cox’s instruction, attending all follow-up appointments, and continuing prescribed exercises or physical therapy is the safest way to get back on your feet. Most patients can expect to resume regular activities within a few months to a year.