Predicting the Return of Bunions with X-Rays
A recent study published in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery shows that x-rays taken right after bunion surgery can “reliably predict” the risk of bunion recurrence over time.
X-rays can make these estimates based on a few simple measurements of the patient’s hallux valgus angle (HVA), or the angle formed by the toe bone and the first metatarsal bone. The study shows that patients whose postoperative HVAs are 8 degrees or larger are 28 more likely to see their bunions recur in the future than those with smaller HVAs, where recurrence is defined as the HVA growing to 20 degrees or more.
Recurrence is always a risk for patients who choose to go under the knife to correct their bunions. Some studies find that as many as 25 percent of patients who undergo bunion surgery experience a return of their bunions, while the study in question saw recurrence in 17 percent of patients.
Researchers Chul Hyun Park and Woo-Chun Lee declared in their study that x-rays taken immediately after surgery can provide relatively accurate predictions of whether recurrence will occur, and in the future, x-ray predictors during surgery might be able to help minimize the risk of recurrence. Park and Lee arrived at this conclusion after observing post-surgery patterns in 93 patients, who had bunion surgery on 117 feet total.
The bunions with the highest likelihood for recurrence were those with the most severe preoperative HVAs — usually 40 degrees or larger before surgery. Another factor in whether recurrence would occur was the position of the sesamoids, or two small bones under the joint in question.
“The recurrence of hallux valgus is one of the most important complications after bunion surgery because it is closely related to patient satisfaction,” the researchers wrote in their study.
Still, many people who suffer from bunions choose to opt for surgery once their hallux valgus becomes too severe or painful, or starts to interfere in their daily activities. Bunion surgery aims to realign the big toe and first metatarsal bone, but full recovery takes four to six months on average and a relatively high percentage of surgery cases ends up seeing a recurrence anyway.
A few non-surgical treatment methods for bunions exist, including the Bunion Bootie. Bunion Booties are flexible bunion splints that provide support for feet suffering from bunions and offer protection from chafing and further inflammation. The Booties may help to restore balance and they can be worn barefoot or slip easily inside basically any shoe to provide a comfortable, supportive, ultra-thin, discreet and effective relief from bunion pain.
Bunion Booties can relieve the uncomfortable symptoms associated with bunions, but they don’t make bunions go away. Only surgery can do that, but it’s still relatively high risk considering the recurrence rate. Those with smaller or less bothersome bunions might consider trying alternative treatments, such as Bunion Bootie, before turning to surgery, which can go either way.