Monday, November 2, 2009

Bunion blight

Question by Ms Koh

I'm a 28-year-old runner, and I've got hereditary bunions. They've never given me much problems until recently: The bunion on my left foot is getting bigger, and while it doesn't hurt, it sometimes causes me to feel slightly imbalanced when I'm running or just standing. I've contemplated having it surgically removed, but I've read that bunionectomies typically lead to loss of range of motion in the foot. Is this true?

Reply from Ms Jessie Phua
Senior sports podiatrist, Changi Sports Medicine Centre

Bunions form often as result of progressive misalignment of the big toe joint. The most common causes are faulty foot biomechanics and family history of bunions. It is also often aggravated by ill-fitting footwear.

The increase in the size of the bunion on your left foot is likely to be caused by excessive weight or shoe pressure applied to the area. High impact activities, such as running, put a lot of added stress and extra weight on your big toe joint.

It is true that your big toe joint's range of motion may be limited or reduced after the operation. You will also be put out of action for six to eight weeks. While you can resume normal activities, the foot is at risk for swelling for up to six months.

Other post-op risks include infection, pain, nerve damage, possible recurrence.

Surgery is usually the last option after you have tried other forms of conservative management. If you are contemplating surgery, you should consult an orthopaedic surgeon on the pros and cons of the procedure as it is very important to be realistic about your expectations and the possible outcomes.

Since you feel slightly imbalanced during running and standing, you may want to see a podiatrist, who will conduct an examination to determine if you need prescribed insoles. The insoles can help correct biomechanical abnormalities, improve foot function and slow down progression of the deformity. However, they won't correct misalignment of the joints or the deformity.

The information provided above is for your general knowledge only. You should seek medical advice or treatment for your condition. Email questions to

From TODAY, Plus – Tuesday, 29-Sep-2009