Bunions: When Is It Time for Surgery? - Dr. Jeffrey E McAlister
Dr. Jeffrey E McAlister / Bunion  / Bunions: When Is It Time for Surgery?
bunions, bunion surgery

Bunions: When Is It Time for Surgery?

What is a Bunion? 

A bunion, also known as “hallux valgus,” is a painful bony bump that develops under the big toe on the inside of the foot. Bunions typically develop slowly. Over time, they increasingly cause pain and difficulty walking or wearing shoes. Bunions form at the MTP joint (metatarsophalangeal joint) in between where the two bones that make up the big toe, called the metatarsal and phalanx, meet. Bunions are most common in women but may develop in children, especially in young girls between the ages of 10 and 15 years old.  

When Should You Consider Bunion Surgery? 

Bunion surgery is often recommended after other non-surgical treatment options have failed. Some non-surgical treatment options include: 

  • Properly fitting shoes – One way to treat and prevent bunions is to switch from narrow, tight-fitting shoes to shoes that fit properly and provide foot support.  
  • Orthotic inserts – Placing inserts directly into the shoe to aid in keeping the big toe in a correct, straight position, which may help alleviate a patient’s pain.  
  • Anti-inflammatory medications – Over the counter medications, like Ibuprofen, that may reduce pain and swelling.  
  • Icing – Applying ice several times a day for 20-minute intervals to help with pain and swelling. 
  • Injection therapy – Cortisone injections are another treatment option that may be used. These are especially effective in reducing patients’ inflammation. 

What are the Surgical Treatment Options for Bunions? 

The most common surgical operations for bunions, which depend on the severity, may include: 

  • Metatarsal Osteotomy – A corrective surgery used to realign the great toe joints. This is typically performed in a minimally-invasive fashion. 
  • Midfoot Arthrodesis (Fusion) – Performed for severe bunion cases where no arthritis is present in the great toe joint. 
  • Great Toe Arthrodesis – This procedure is for severely arthritic bunions and for revision cases or failed bunionectomies. 
  • Osteotomy – A corrective surgery that involves the cutting and removal of a piece of bone. This is also done to realign the great toe joint. 
  • Tendon and Ligament Repair – This typically involves lengthening the toes and removing any weak joint tissue. This is frequently performed in combination with an Osteotomy.  
  • Exostectomy The surgical removal of the bunion on the MTP joint. This surgery is also used in conjunction with an Osteotomy.  
  • Arthrodesis – Involves the removal of the swollen joint surface. This is commonly used for patients with a severe bunion, who suffer from arthritis, and for whom previous bunion surgeries have not worked.  

What are Some Advanced Surgical Treatment Options and Techniques for Bunions? 

Dr. Jeffrey McAlister, a fellowship-trained foot and ankle surgeon, proudly offers his patients the most advanced, cutting-edge treatment options for bunions. Some of these treatment options include: 

Lapiplasty 3-D Bunion Correction – This technology is used to assist a surgeon in correcting all three dimensions of a bunion deformity at the root of the problem to restore the natural anatomy of the foot. With a faster recovery time, many patients enjoy being able to walk within days after their surgery using this technology. 

Minimally-Invasive Bunion Surgery – This is a technique many foot and ankle surgeons are trained in, including Dr. McAlister. Compared to traditional bunion surgery, minimally-invasive surgery may cause less trauma to the foot, decrease pain and lead to a faster recovery time. 


Are you experiencing pain and difficulty performing your daily activities due to a bunion? Dr. Jeffrey McAlister, FACFAS, is highly experienced in diagnosing and treating patients with bunions. He’ll work with you to identify a treatment plan that is best for you. Contact his office today to schedule an appointment at (602) 955-5700. 

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