Even Professional Athletes (MEN!) Get Bunions
When you think of “bunion sufferer,” who comes to mind?
Maybe you think of your mom, or your grandfather, or even yourself. Maybe it’s that ballerina you knew in college or that friend of yours who wears cheap high heels a little too often. But the truth is, bunions know no bounds — even professional athletes have to deal with them sometimes.
Take Julio Jones — wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons — for example. Jones, like most NFL players, has faced his fair share of pesky injuries over the course of his football career. But earlier this month, a bunion took front-center stage and ended up requiring surgery.
Since bunion surgery can often affect a foot’s range of motion in the long term (or even permanently), athletes suffering from bunions tend to delay the surgical option for as long as possible, until the bunion becomes painful enough to affect their performance. In Jones’ case, he missed two games in the 2016 season and was at points limited during practice. His bunion reached that the surgical threshold around early March, putting him under the knife on March 6.
ABC reported that Jones’ recovery is expected to take four to five months, but that he’ll most likely be recovered enough for training camp starting in July.
Athletes are actually particularly prone to developing bunions, depending on the sport. The most immediate mode of treatment for an athlete who’s developed a bunion is to change up the footgear — find a shoe with a wide, high toe box, spacious enough to accommodate the enlarged big toe joint. If an athlete makes the shoe switch early on enough in the life of their bunion, it can greatly relieve pain and progression of the affliction.
But sometimes, a new shoe isn’t enough. If a bunion reaches a point where it’s painful enough to significantly limit an athlete’s activities, surgery is often the only option standing. In those cases, recovery time depends on the size and severity of the bunion — usually by six months post-surgery, the foot bones have fused completely and any residual pain should have subsided. But that’s still half a year off the field, which means the earlier an athlete can address the formation of a bunion, the better.
So maybe, when asked to picture the bunion sufferer in your life, you thought of the family’s college football star or maybe your friend’s kid, the soccer player. Or perhaps your bunion might throw a wrench in your marathon training. If a bunion is cramping your athletic career, see to it as quickly as possible — talk to an orthopaedic surgeon about alternatives to surgery, and keep rocking your sport.