Busting myths about bunions: How new procedure can make a difference

With the amount of steps the average adult takes in their lives, it's not surprising that many will develop foot pain and bunions. Doctors are now developing a new procedure to treat those bunions.

The average American adult takes approximately 4,000 to 6,000 steps a day. In fact, most Americans travel 75,000 miles on their feet by the time they reach 50. So, it’s not surprising that 75% of people will suffer from foot pain at least once in their lives.

One in three people will experience the pain of a bunion. That’s a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe. Ivanhoe busts the myths about bunions and tells us about a new procedure to fix them.

What causes bunions?

“They can be worsened by high heels. The strongest factor for developing a bunion is usually genetics,” said Dr. David Garras, an orthopedic surgeon at Midwest Orthopaedic Consultants.

Can you correct them by using over-the-counter treatments?

“They can alleviate some of the pain or what have you. They cannot correct the bunion,” Garras explained.

Kathleene Faragai-Moke has had them since she was a teen. When she became a high school math teacher, the pain became unbearable.

“It was a shooting pain, even like, if I was just standing still, I didn’t even have to be walking,” she said.

The traditional way most doctors correct a bunion is through open surgery that can be painful with a long recovery time. But now, some orthopedic surgeons are using a minimally invasive bunionectomy.

“What she ended up having is a bunionectomy done through about four or five small little poke hole incisions,” Garras said.

Through those holes, Garras was able to cut the bone using a small burr.

Surgery time is the same for both, but with the minimally invasive procedure, incisions are smaller, and there’s less soft tissue damage, less bleeding, less scarring, less swelling and less pain.

“I would say by the second week I was walking on my heel,” Faragoi-Moke said.

The surgery worked so well, a few months later, she had the other foot done.

“Changed my life. I never have pain in my feet. I wear sandals again. I don’t have to wear wide shoes anymore. It was great,” Faragoi-Moke said.

Garras said not everybody is a candidate for the minimally invasive bunionectomy. It works best on somebody who has a moderate to severe bunion, no arthritis and no midfoot collapse.