Dr. Oz: Can Bunion Surgery make the condition worse?
A bunion is a painful foot condition that develops due to an abnormal disposition of the big toe joint. This condition is very common in women and most of them undergo surgery to treat this condition. “Could the surgery actually cause more problems than the bunions themselves?”, asks Dr Oz . He brought up this issue in his recent episode that covers the big question of whether to go for bunion surgery and if yes, when is the best time? In fact, he named this episode as ‘The surgery you should say “No” to’. In his show, he discussed the experiences that women go through in going under the knife for fixing their bunions and who could be a better guest on this episode than Judge Marilyn Milian of ‘The People’s Court’ who herself has gone through surgery recently and also recounted her previous experience 20 years back.
What Cause Bunion?
Bunion is a bony bump that forms at the base of the big toe when it pushes up against the other toes.
1) High heel shoe: Most physicians in the medical community believe that it occurs due to an ill fitting high heel shoe that has a small, tight toe box.
2) Hereditary: However, it could even be a hereditary tendency passed down from the parents and/or grandparents, Judge Milian believes.
3) Arthritis: The third issue that could be a cause of bunions is arthritis. Pain due to arthritis can make people walk differently and that can put pressure on the toe bones.
Bunions can be really painful and offset the normal balance of the body. As Judge Milian noted, her bunion made her walk differently and was putting pressure on her back, her neck and her entire body causing her to experience pain not only on her toes but her entire body. That, she said, should be the real reason one should go for the surgery and not just the aesthetic reason. Surgery, in this case will cause remarkable pain and will take a long recovery time of six to eight weeks. At that time, our mobility will be compromised and we should have people around to help us with our chores in addition to a lot of other inconveniences.
Dr. Oz: Bunion Surgery
A typical bunion surgery is literally sawing off the extra bone from the toe joint. Dr Oz explained with the help of an animation, how this surgery is done. It is not only the toe bone but the entire toe joint that gets affected in a bunion. Often a bunion is swollen too. Surgeons work by giving an incision near the toe joint and after they reset the toe bones by aligning them into right places, they put a big screw through the bone to hold them in place. For this reason, the post-surgery recovery is painful and lengthy.
For Judge Milian, she was into her eighth week and was still in pain. However, her surgery was a little complicated than most bunion surgeries. Her toe bones had to be cut and broken and reconstructed as opposed to a simple sawing off. She underwent that simple surgery before and in 20 years, her bunions came back. Her surgeon was very clear to mention her the risks and benefits of such a painful bone surgery and even with Dr Oz’s animation, she exclaimed. “I would faint!”
Dr. Oz: Exostectomy Procedure
To better understand the technical part, Dr Oz constructed a model in his studio that resembled a big foot with bunions and he along with Judge Milian went on to explain how a simplest type of bunion toe surgery is performed. The procedure is surgically called ‘exostectomy‘ and is performed with tools little bit ‘carpenter like’ quipped Dr Oz. To keep the atmosphere funny he took out different tools and pretended to use them on the model foot before him and finally he took out a huge saw blade and used it to smooth out the bulging bone. That was indeed an impressive pretension all done to create a strong feeling in audience’s mind that this surgery is indeed a painful and serious one.
Bunion Treatment Options:
The million dollar question is, was it worth it? At this point in the show Dr Oz brought in an expert who discussed the pros and cons of this procedure. Podiatrist Crystal Holmes clearly mentioned that this procedure is not for people who go for it for aesthetic purposes. She discussed the conservative treatment options and also preventive measures. Most important among them is the choice of shoes for ladies. Ladies can continue to wear high heels without pressuring their toe bones if they choose shoes with more blunt toe boxes than the pointed ones. She also advised to look for shoes that have a little roomy height at their toe box so that the big toe does not feel squished. There are also inserts available over the counter that provides a little cushion for comfort and shock absorption near the ball of the foot as well as the heels. Finally, Dr Holmes recommended some daily foot exercise to strengthen the foot muscles. These can be simple exercises like gripping on a golf ball with the toes.
The take home message from this episode was that surgery should only be the last option to treat bunions and that decision should come when all other options have failed. Considering surgery just because the toe looks deformed or ugly should not be the decision maker since it will not kill the issue and may come back 20 years later as it happened with Judge Milian.