3 Promises We Make to Every Patient with Bunions

by | Apr 20, 2018

When it comes to bunions, sometimes it seems like there are as many care options as there are people with the condition! Still, in the end, they all fall into one of two basic categories:

  • Conservative care options, which may be able to control pain and improve function (but won’t actually fix the bunion itself)
  • Surgery

Frequently, patients who come to see us are nervous about the possibility that they’ll need surgery. (That’s especially true if they’ve waited way too long to see us in the first place!) They may also be concerned that the doctor is simply going to recommend surgery no matter what, without even considering the possible alternatives.

We want to alleviate those fears.

Yes, it is true that surgery is sometimes necessary. And if you fall into that category, we aren’t going to sugar coat it for you. But surgery is never something we rush into.

To put you a little more at ease, here are three promises we make to every patient who walks (or even hobbles) into our office with bunion pain.

Bunions

Promise 1: We Will Give You the Personal Attention You Need

Unless a bunion is very mild or very severe, there’s no way to just look at an X-ray and determine whether or not bunion surgery should be recommended. Any doctor who thinks otherwise isn’t paying enough attention to his or her patients!

That’s because the condition itself, or even the symptoms, are only one component of determining the best treatment course.

Want to know the question that really matters?

“How is your bunion affecting you?”

The entire evaluation process is focused around this central question. Because when you get right down to it, it’s not the condition itself that is most important. It’s about being happy with your lifestyle.

A bunion that isn’t affecting you very much probably doesn’t need surgery. If you can still wear normal shoes, go about your day without too many restrictions, and are only dealing with mild, intermittent discomfort, chances are extremely good that we can help you manage that conservatively.

Severe, everyday discomfort or difficulty wearing shoes, though? We probably have to start thinking about more aggressive treatment.

But what if bunion pain is occasionallysevere, but only in certain circumstances or activities?

Again, your desired lifestyle is a big determining factor. If it only hurts when you run—but you don’t really like running anyway, and you’re just as happy riding your bike instead—then it may be best to simply modify your activities and avoid painful situations.

However, if running is something you truly loveand don’t want to give up, then let’s get that bunion fixed for you!

Promise 2: We Will Work Hard to Keep You Out of Surgery

If you’re like most people, you probably aren’t exactly excited about the prospect of surgery. All things considered, we’re guessing you’d rather be told you don’t need it.

Good news for you: we’re the same way.

We don’t want to rush anyone into surgery, unless it’s immediately obvious that no other solution will be effective.

Anything that falls on that borderline? We’re quite happy to pursue and exhaust all realistic avenues for non-surgical treatment before we schedule a surgery.

Fortunately, although we may be a little biased here, we think we’re pretty good at treating things conservatively.

If you’re lucky, it might be as simple as giving up on those old shoes and switching permanently to roomier, better-cushioned pairs. Those narrow shoes may be cute, but if your feet don’t fit, it’s time to face reality!

For those that need just a bit more help than that? There are still plenty of options that can be effective:

  • Padding the bunion using a bunion pad or guard. These cushion the bunion and protect it from friction when you wear shoes.
  • Holding the big toe in better alignment using a toe spacer or splint.
  • Wearing custom orthotics. A proper set of orthotics can cushion, support, and redistribute forces across the sole of the foot—away from the painful joint.
  • Physical therapy. Although you can’t “stretch away” your bunion, certain exercises may be effective at relieving pain and slowing the rate of progression.
  • Managing pain with medications or injections.
  • Laser therapy for tougher pain.

If we think that some combination of these treatments may allow you to regain a high quality of life without surgery, we’ll definitely let you know.

Promise 3: If You Do Need Surgery, We’ll Take Good Care of You

Like we said, we’ll work hard to keep you off the operating table. But take it from us: when you need it, you need it.

When pain is impairing your daily life or making it impossible to participate in specific activities you love, then getting you back to normal as quickly as possible is a top priority.

And if your bunion is severe, and there is a significant structural problem with the joint or bone behind it, then surgically repairing that bone may be best (or only) way to restore your quality of life.

But we have good news on this front as well. With Dr. Cory Pilling, you’re in good hands.

We perform a fair amount of bunion surgeries at Canyon Foot and Ankle, so you know you’re getting a surgeon with a ton of experience.

But more than that, that same commitment we make to personal attention during the evaluation and diagnosis phase (in “Promise 1”) also extends to the treatment phase, including surgery.

We’re not kidding when we say there are dozens of procedures described in the medical literature for bunion surgeries. It’s an area of treatment where new research, new methods, and new approaches are constantly innovated and tested. And each type of surgery comes with a slightly different set of strengths and weaknesses.

Now, do we specialize in all 20 or 50 or 100 types of bunion surgery—whatever the number may be? No, of course not.

But we are constantly reviewing, researching, and training so that we can make the best methods, covering the widest array of unique scenarios, available to our patients. That includes various types of osteotomies (where bones are cut and realigned), joint fusions, and even total joint replacement using implants.

This allows us to select a bunion surgery procedure that is going to be a great fit for you as an individual person, and for your lifestyle. Rather than just doing the same procedure for everyone, we can customize the care depending on your work situation, medical history, favorite activities, lifestyle goals, etc.

And you can bet that we’ll make sure you and any caregivers you designate will be fully educated on expected timetables, aftercare instructions, and how to recognize any potential problems that may occur. Ask us as many questions as you need, at any time—it’s what we’re here for!

If you’re suffering from bunion pain, the time to act is now! To schedule your appointment with Dr. Pilling, please give us a call today at the office nearest you:

  • Twin Falls: (208) 733-0436
  • Burley: (208) 678-2727

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