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Podiatry – How Does an Osteotomy Remove Bunions?

Podiatry – How Does an Osteotomy Remove Bunions?

Persons suffering from bunions may sometimes experience pain, swelling and restricted movement from these bumps of bone that gradually form outside the base of the big toe. While this condition can be bothersome, it is often manageable by wearing corrective splints, choosing supportive and better-fitting shoes and icing the area when irritated.

However, some cases lead to chronic pain and have a negative impact on everyday life. In these situations, a special type of osteotomy, or bone removal surgery, may be required to eradicate the source of the problem. If a podiatrist has recommended this procedure to treat bunions, it can be helpful to understand the details of the surgery, learn to prepare for the procedure and find out what to expect during recovery.

The process of removing bunions by means of an osteotomy

During this specific type of bunion removal, the surgeon begins by making a small incision to access the bones of the affected toe. Depending on the size and location of the growth, the doctor cuts or grinds away the excess bone.

Because the shape and alignment of the toes and foot may have shifted over a long time, some of the ligaments and tendons may have tightened, preventing the toe from straightening. In this case, the ligaments and tendons will need to be cut in order to allow for proper alignment. Plates, pins or screws are typically used to hold the reshaped bones in place. Finally, the incision is stitched closed and bandaged to promote healing and prevent infection.

Preparation and recovery

Persons considering an osteotomy often have questions about what they need to do before the procedure. They also wonder how long it takes and how quickly they can get back to regular activities.

Before surgery

Prior to scheduling a surgery date and time, patients should discuss preexisting conditions and current supplements and medications with the doctor. Many medications cannot be taken in the days or weeks leading up to surgery, including a bunion osteotomy. It is important to follow the surgeon's precise instructions before the operation.

During and after surgery

Most people can expect some form of IV anesthesia during the procedure, which typically runs about one hour in length. After the operation, patients may be required to wear a surgical shoe, brace or boot for a few days or weeks, depending on the severity of the case. While a cane, walker or crutches may help with discomfort and stability, many modern developments in stabilizing devices make movement after surgery much easier. In general, patients should expect to manage mild to moderate pain, swelling and throbbing in the weeks after treatment.


It is important to consult a podiatrist for treatment options when it comes to dealing with bunions. While there are many methods to reduce swelling and manage pain, an osteotomy may provide an appropriate solution for those struggling to wear regular shoes or suffering from chronic pain. Even when side effects are not yet severe, persons experiencing bunions should seek an evaluation from a professional to help prevent future declines in overall quality of life. A prompt diagnosis can make a difference in the speed and effectiveness of various forms of treatment.

Request an appointment here: or call Ambulatory Foot & Ankle Clinic at (208) 803-0010 for an appointment in our Pocatello office.

Check out what others are saying about our services on Yelp: Bunions in Pocatello, ID.

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