A Paradigm Shift in Bunion Correction Surgery

Experiencing foot pain can be a hindrance to everyday activities. For individuals suffering from bunions, medically known as hallux valgus, this is especially true.

Bunions are complex deformities, caused by an unstable joint in the middle of the foot. Years of abnormal motion and pressure on the joint forces the big toe to lean towards the others, which can cause a painful lump on the joint. This unstable joint is the foundation of the problem, allowing the metatarsal bone to move out of alignment. Unfortunately, bunion deformities worsen the more stress is put upon the bone.

Up until recently, surgical treatment for bunions targeted the pain and cosmetic issues associated with bunions, but not the root cause – the unstable joint. Using this surgical method, there was up to a 70 percent chance that a bunion could redevelop.1

A relatively new procedure, known as a frontal plane bunionectomy, has revolutionized the way in which bunions are corrected. This advanced procedure precisely aligns the metatarsal and secures the foundation of the misaligned bone.

Valley View podiatrist, Noel Armstrong, has treated patients with foot conditions for over 18 years here in the Roaring Fork Valley, and credits the new procedure as a “paradigm shift in bunions.” He performs several frontal plane bunionectomies a month and has seen a dramatic improvement in the way his patients have responded to the surgery. The frontal plane bunionectomy typically has a non-weight bearing time of around six weeks and involves physical therapy.

“This isn’t something that’s going to be the right fit with every patient, certainly those with only a two-dimensional deformity (meaning those whose metatarsals are not out of alignment) would not benefit from this type of procedure,” says Dr. Armstrong.

“What we have found is that the majority of patients actually have a three-dimensional deformity, requiring a frontal plane correction. We still shave the bone, we still shift the bone over to make the foot narrower, but now we also rotate the metatarsal to realign the joint, which was not something that was done in the past.”

“This is dramatically better than the old surgeries we used to perform on severe bunions. It’s much more appropriate for many patients as we are actually fusing the unstable area, which makes it not only an anatomic correction, it’s also a longer-lasting correction. When a patient has a successful frontal plane bunionectomy, they should never have to deal with recurrence.”

Due to the active population of the Roaring Fork Valley, the Foot and Ankle Center at Valley View recently brought in a second provider to assist Dr. Armstrong. Mark Kane, PA-C, has been seeing patients since late last year at the Foot and Ankle Center at Valley View 0and at satellite clinics in Silt and Willits. His addition to the team has dramatically reduced wait times and patients with acute problems are now able to be seen on an acute basis.

For more information on the Foot and Ankle Center at Valley View, visit vvh.org/podiatry, or call 970.384.7100.

1. Jeuken RM, et al. Foot and Ankle Int. 2016; 37:687-95.