With over 4 million sufferers in any given year, bunions are a common and painful malady. Surgery can help, but older methods could prevent a patient from walking around for three months or more. Now a new procedure can reduce recovery to only six weeks.
"You hear bunions and hammer toes and think that's it's an old lady disease or something and it's just not," said Dr. Tyson Green, Orthopedic surgeon and foot specialist at the Center for Orthopedics of the deforming condition.
For Susan Soileau the pain was unbearable. "It wasn't really a sharp pain. It was more of a throbbing type pain and you could tell with the coloration on it. It was red," described Soileau.
Women suffer from the bone growth more often than men causing their big toe to turn inward, squeezing the other toes and making everyday activities hurt.
"You can see how the angle of the joint would cause that joint to move differently and when it grinds on itself it could cause early arthritis in that joint," said Dr. Green of the possible side effects of the condition.
"It was starting to bother me with my shoes and having to get a wide fit or having to go to a larger size," said Soileau.
Bunions can be aggravated by uncomfortable shoes, but most people are pre-disposed to the foot problem.
"It's something that is congenital. We see people with hyper mobility and a bad bunion deformity at 14, 15 or 16 years old," explained Dr. Green.
Older methods for removing the unsightly problem involved a three month recovery, but a new surgery got Soileau back on her feet in six weeks.
"At 6 weeks I'm getting them back to a regular tennis shoe," said Dr. Green.
The surgeon implants screws that hold on to the bone and stabilize it. Dr. Green made this analogy: "[It's like hanging] a heavy object on a wall and just putting one little nail in there. It's just going to rip it out. But if you put a bracket or sheet-rock screws and keep it in there, the whole wall has to fail for it to break."
Soileau's feet are back in alignment, with only thin scars to show for it.
"I am anxious to go shoe shopping," said an excited Soileau.
The main risk for this procedure is not accepting the hardware, but Dr. Green says that is rare.
For more information on the bunion surgery or any other foot ailments you can go to a free seminar at the Center for Orthopedics. Doctors Tyson green and Kalieb Pourciau will speak on January 26th at 5:30 pm. Call 721-2903 to register.