Do you have a hard time walking or climbing stairs without foot pain? Is your foot misshapen? Do you wish you could find a pair of shoes that fit? Are all these problems contributed to a bump on the side of your foot below your big toe?

If so, you probably have a bunion.

Although they may develop on the fifth toe, a bunion usually occurs at the base of the first toe (or the big toe). Bunions are often caused by incorrect foot mechanics. The foot may flatten too much, forcing the toe joint to move beyond its normal range. In some cases, joint damage caused by arthritis or an injury can produce a bunion. Many simply inherit the traits for forming bunions from their parents or grandparents. If you're at risk for developing a bunion, wearing high-heeled, pointed or improperly fitting shoes makes the problem worse. If you have a bunion already you should call Patrick W. Mullen, D.P.M., a Board Certified podiatrist with seventeen years' experience in correcting bunion deformities.

"Bunions are one of the most common foot deformities seen in our office," states Dr. Mullen. "If not severe, a bunion can be treated non-surgically with wider shoes and custom-made shoe inserts called orthotics that control incorrect foot mechanics." However, for severe bunions he may recommend surgery.

Bunion surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis without the need for general anesthesia. Many patients are able to walk immediately after surgery and need pain medication for only a few days. "It is important to see a foot surgeon who is trained in the many surgical techniques to correct a bunion deformity," says Dr. Mullen. "The type of surgical procedure you undergo depends on the type of bunion you have."

During surgery, Dr. Mullen can shift or remove the offending bone associated with the bunion or he can realign the affected soft tissues (joints, tendons, etc.) surrounding the bunion. Dr. Mullen uses the most advanced treatment procedures available to achieve these goals, such as the absorbable pin. The absorbable pin is a useful device that holds the bone in place after a misalignment is surgically corrected. The pin over time absorbs into the bone, eliminating the need for follow-up surgery.

After surgery, a patient will visit Dr. Mullen weekly for the first three weeks for follow-up visits. During this your foot is examined, bandages changed, X-rays taken and stitches are removed. Most patients are able to return to shoes and full activities by six to eight weeks.

"Bunion surgery is very successful and very liberating," says Dr. Mullen. "My patients are often able to jog, play tennis or simply take a walk in the park again without hobbling or experiencing pain. Their feet look much better after surgery, too."

If you have a bunion, take advantage of the latest procedures to correct the misalignment. For more information and to set up an appointment, call now at (559) 435-0220.

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