Arthrex Bunionectomy Patient Stories | Joanne

This real patient was compensated for the time they took to share their personal experience with the Arthrex Minimally Invasive Bunionectomy procedure.

For Joanne L, life is all about being outdoors and active. She sets her priorities around time spent with her husband and 2-year-old daughter, enjoying nature whether it be a family trail hike or a landscaping project in their yard. But what really makes her happy is running, especially in the woods, where she can focus on her surroundings, enjoying the sounds of nature and taking a pause from the outside world.  

A History of Bunions and Bunion Pain

Joanne thinks she developed her first bunion in junior high, but it wasn’t until she was in high school in the 1990s when she was running cross-country and track that it began to hurt. “It felt like a stabbing pain in the joint in my foot and I wasn't able to complete a workout and that was the first time that had ever happened to me. So, my coach sat me down. He took my sock off and looked at my foot and he said, ‘oh, you have a bunion.’ I didn't know what that was. I was young.” Her coach suggested she visit a foot doctor to find out about having the bunion fixed.

Joanne went to a podiatrist who recommended surgery, so she underwent what is now considered a “traditional bunionectomy”—an open surgery that requires a long incision to visualize the toe joint and bones. Her recovery from the open bunionectomy was long and arduous. Joanne says “the initial recovery was painful. I remember having to take for the first time in my life pain medicine that was stronger than over-the-counter pain medicine.”  

It was months before she was off crutches and back on her feet. Worst of all, her bunion came back within 5 or 6 years of the initial surgery. And then, a bunion began to form on her other foot.

Joanne’s pain levels continued to increase over time—this time in both feet. After her initial poor experience with a traditional bunion surgery, she was reluctant to undergo another painful operation. Further, the time never seemed right between taking time off from her job in the health care industry, pregnancy, and then chasing a toddler around.  

She tried various remedies to alleviate the pain from her bunions, including icing her feet, wearing special socks to separate her toes, and different orthotics in her shoes. Nothing relieved the pain for more than a short time and she found herself missing group runs with friends and cutting her trail runs short.

Joanne Learns About the Arthrex Minimally Invasive Bunionectomy

It had been some 20 years after her first surgery, when a banged toe prompted Joanne to look for a local foot and ankle specialist and then to begin researching bunion removal again. She was excited when she discovered that in the intervening years, a new procedure—one that was minimally invasive—had been developed to correct bunion deformities. She felt hopeful as she made an appointment with a doctor whose website said he performed the Arthrex Minimally Invasive Bunionectomy.  

Once there, Joanne’s doctor took some x-rays and told her she was a good candidate for the Arthrex Bunionectomy. He explained the procedure and how it required only a few pinhole-sized incisions and resulted in much less pain¹ and a quicker recovery² than the traditional bunionectomy she had undergone years earlier.  

Joanne was overwhelmed with emotion. “It meant that I was going to be able to run day after day without pain in my feet I was going to be able to go on technical hikes with bending and pushing off my toes without having to take days off afterward.”

“For nearly two decades, I had been worried about covering up my feet. I would have to worry about what types of shoes I'm going to wear if I'm going over to someone's house,” she said. Now, with the Arthrex Bunionectomy, she would be able to show her feet again.

Joanne’s Postoperative Journey

After her bunion surgery, Joanne was able to go home in a walking boot. She didn‘t have to take any opioids or prescription pain relievers, because she could manage the pain with over-the-counter medicines. Though she had to be careful during the first week not to get her stitches wet, it was, she says, “a pretty easy surgery.”

Joanne’s surgery went so well that, as soon as her doctor gave her the go ahead, she scheduled an Arthrex Minimally Invasive Bunionectomy for her other foot.  “I didn't have any apprehension about getting my second foot done. I was so pleased with the results on the first one I just wanted to keep going!”  

Joanne speaks from experience after undergoing a failed traditional bunion removal surgery and then two successful minimally invasive surgeries. “There really is no comparison. [The Arthrex Bunionectomy] was so much faster in terms of recovery—so much easier in terms of just pain and getting back out there.”

Before her minimally invasive Arthrex bunionectomies, Joanne felt like she might have been “overcompensating for some of the pain within the bunions. I was noticing pains in my arch…my knees...my hips.”  It affected her gait, both running and walking. “Had I not gone through with this procedure, I know I would have had a number of other health physical health issues…and more years of covering up my feet too.”  

Instead, back to hiking with her family and enjoying her long runs in the woods, Joanne says, “I definitely have freedom from bunion pain. My feet now feel fantastic. I have full range of motion in my joints. I don't have pain!”

References

  1. Lai MC, Rikhraj IS,Woo YL, Yeo W, Ng YCS, Koo K. Clinical and radiological outcomes comparing percutaneous chevron-Akin osteotomies vs open scarf-Akin osteotomies for hallux valgus.Foot Ankle Int. 2018;39(3):311-317. doi:10.1177/1071100717745282  
  2. Lee M, Walsh J., Smith MM, Ling J, Wines A, LamP. Hallux valgus correction comparing percutaneous chevron/Akin (PECA) and open scarf/Akin osteotomies. Foot Ankle Int. 2017;38(8):838-846. doi:10.1177/1071100717704941

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Surgeons using the Arthrex Minimally Invasive Bunionectomy procedure have been trained in minimally invasive surgery for bunion correction.

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