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Less invasive bunion surgery brings relief to some patients

A new procedure reduces the risk that the bunion will return, and most patients are back on their feet within days.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — It's fair to say nobody wants to talk about bunions: a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of the big toe that affects both men and women. 

If you have been holding off on getting treatment,  there is a new procedure that potentially keeps bunions from coming back and gets you back on your feet faster.

Since high school, something has always been wrong with Gina Ann Smith's foot—throbbing pain that wouldn't stop.

Smith didn't let the pain keep her from walking around Disney World every year. But during her last visit to the theme park, she started experiencing pain—this time on the bottom of her right foot.

"I couldn't even walk around there I had to stop and take breaks because my foot was hurting," Smith said.

Dr. Angela Tebaldi is a doctor of Podiatric Medicine. She says both men and women can have bunions.

"That joint causes this bone to elevate lean and rotate out of alignment. That causes the prominent bump and the big toe to deviate towards the second toe," Dr. Tebaldi said.

The procedure realigns the bones at the problematic joint. An incision is made on the top of the foot and takes out the cartilage, and the bones are then screwed into position with titanium plates.

"My patients, I walk them earlier than I would have done with the other procedure. I am getting one hundred percent correction versus the other procedure," Dr. Tebaldi said.

Patients can bear weight immediately after surgery in a special boot that allows their foot to heal. 

This is scan of the right shows Smith's foot after the procedure, compared to before. 

Smith started walking four months later with no restrictions. Last fall she logged 1,300 steps a day at Disney World pain-free—something she hadn't been able to for years. 

Click here to learn more information from the American Podiatric Medical Association.

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