Bunion Surgery May Be a Bad Choice for You, Warns Dr. Oz
Are you considering bunion surgery because your feet look less than ideal and you cannot fit into high heeled shoes any longer? Dr. Oz warns viewers that choosing surgery may not be the answer to your foot problems.
“Today we are talking about a painful and often crippling condition that could affect more than half of you at some point in your life,” says Dr. Oz as he warns viewers that treating your bunions with bunion surgery may be a bad choice for you. “Many of you will turn to surgery, but will surgery cause more problems than the bunions themselves?”
With Dr. Oz is special celebrity guest Marilyn Milian, a former Florida state circuit court judge who currently presides over the popular television series The People's Court and who herself suffers from bunions and turned to surgery as a solution. “The aftermath is very, very, very, very painful and involves slow recovery,” says Judge Milian who wearing a walking cast at the time of the filming was 8 weeks into recovery from her bunion surgery and describes how that at week 4 she was screaming in excruciating pain.
According to Dr. Oz, the pain Judge Milian went through is not uncommon following bunion surgery during the recovery period which is approximately 6-8 weeks long—often necessitating wearing a cast and using a small leg scooter to get around in because you cannot bear weight on the treated foot during this period. However, in some cases, recovery from bunion surgery (including experiencing pain) can take several months up to a year before healing completely.
So what causes bunions? Unfortunately they can develop not only from wearing narrow high heeled shoes with a small toe box, but also could be a matter of genetics. A family history of bunions is one of the risk factors of developing painful bunions reports Dr. Oz who adds that a third risk factor is arthritis.
“The third issue is actually arthritis, because when you get pain in your foot, you walk differently and that can throw the bone off,” says Dr. Oz as he points out to a diagram that illustrates how bunions can lead to a separation of the joints of the bones of the big toe. When joint separation is severe, the bones have to be trimmed and sometimes broken and inserted with a metal pin to manipulate the big toe into a normal position he tells viewers.
However, in cases where joint separation is not an issue, the majority of bunion surgeries involve slightly less invasive measures that involves sawing off bony processes on the big toe called exostoses using a surgical procedure known as an “Exostectomy.” An exostectomy is necessary to prevent damage to nearby nerves and tendons that are pressed upon by the bony processes.
More recently less invasive bunion surgery techniques have met with some success. When Dr. Oz asked Judge Milian whether it was worth it after having gone through all the pain she did with her bunion current surgery, she told Dr. Oz that she will have to wait and see how it turns out for her. “I am hoping that I will be able to say without any question that it was probably worth it for me. It is very much an individual question for each person,” says Judge Milian.
Also with Dr. Oz is special guest podiatrist Crystal Holmes, DPM, who tells viewers that bunion surgery should not be performed just because someone does not like the physical appearance of their foot due to bunions. Furthermore, she says that when bunion surgery is decided upon, it should only be done after conventional bunion treatment methods have been tried to relieve the pain that can come from bunions. “If you can’t take it [the pain] anymore, that’s when surgery should be discussed with your doctor,” says Dr. Holmes.
Her recommendation of non-surgical methods to try first to alleviate your bunion issues include:
1. Avoid wearing high heel shoes with a narrow toe box
2. Go with heels not quite so high with a more rounded toe box
3. Use bunion pads that reduce the friction between the big toe and the shoe
4. Try inserts designed specifically for high heeled shoes
5. Increase the flexibility of your toes and foot with an exercise consisting of repeated attempts to pick up a golf ball by grasping the ball between the bottom edges of your toes against the ball of your foot.
The take home message from The Dr. Oz Show is that while bunions may be an inconvenience and aesthetically unpleasant, people should choose bunion surgery only if their foot pain is so great that surgery is the only alternative. Never choose bunion surgery in hopes that it will improve your foot’s sex appeal or enable your foot to fit into high heels again—in many cases, bunion surgery will still not make wearing high heels a possibility again.
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