Is a 3-D Bunion Surgery for you?

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Is a 3-D Bunion Surgery for you?

The 3-D bunion surgery represents a significant improvement on traditional bunion removal surgery, which addresses the bunion from a two-dimensional perspective (sideways and elevated).

With bunionectomy, the protruding metatarsal bone – which connects the midfoot to the big toe – is cut in half vertically and shifted inward. Then, we fuse between the first metatarsal bone and one of the small bones in the midfoot, correcting the original deformity and allowing the toe to stay straight.

Often, though, the bunion develops because the metatarsal is misaligned in three dimensions: sideways, elevated, and rotated out of alignment. A 3-D bunion surgery allows us to address the bunion in three dimensions. We don't cut the metatarsal with this procedure. Instead, we rotate it back to its normal anatomical position, naturally removing the bunion.

3-D bunion surgery cuts time-to-weight-bearing down to just days. Most patients can walk in a protected boot in less than six to eight weeks. And many can start wearing their favorite footwear again within a few weeks after they leave the protected boot – even heels. After the patient's bones are fully healed, they can resume the sports and exercise that bunion pain kept them from enjoying.

With 3-D bunion surgeries, we rotate the bone back into alignment from all dimensions – straightening the toe and naturally removing the bump. We then fuse the bones together at the tarsometatarsal joint, and secure the joint with titanium plating technology. You won't permanently lose range of motion in your toe. The first metatarsal will continue to move normally, and the big toe will stay straight, decreasing the risk of the bunion returning.

The plates applied during the procedure enable patients to bear weight on their foot – with the assistance of a boot – within days or a week, instead of many weeks. Because it takes time for the bone and soft tissue to heal, you won’t regain normal range of motion until about six months, but until then, you will be mobile!

The root cause of bunions can be instability in the midfoot joint, which forces the first metatarsal, or big toe, to move. As surrounding bones in the foot shift out of alignment to accommodate the instability, the joint at the base of the big toe begins to deviate out at a 45-degree angle, while the tip of the toe points toward the rest of the toes. The result is inflammation and pain from imbalanced weight-bearing and friction against footwear.

Left untreated, bunions increase pressure on the bursa – the fluid sac that pads the bones near the big toe – causing a condition called bursitis that causes swelling and pain. In severe cases, the bursa can rupture and become infected.

Unfortunately, bunions are a very common foot deformity. Studies show approximately one-third of U.S. adults deal with this often-painful condition, which can be genetic and tends to get worse with age. Women develop bunions more often due to uncomfortable but trendy footwear, such as boots and heels with pointed toes.