Friday, November 8, 2013

Bunion Surgery: Don't Listen To Dr. Oz!

We know that a lot of people watch the Dr. Oz show and believe everything that comes out of his mouth to be the truth. Because if Dr. Oz said it, it must be true, right?
We've encountered this scenario with Dr. Oz and the gospel truth several times in the course of his show, including one of his most famous proclamations: Don't wear flip-flops! Podiatrists across the country pounded their heads into their desks, saying "We've been saying that for years!"
Last Wednesday Dr. Oz had on his program The People's Court judge Marilyn Milian to talk about bunion surgery. At first, we were excited to see him put the spotlight on this topic. Bunions are a common foot deformity we see in our practices, and some people, not all, require surgery to correct the bone.
Dr. Oz warned viewers immediately that surgery may not be the answer to your bunion problem. "Today we are talking about a painful and often crippling condition that could affect more than half of you at some point in your life," Oz said. "Many of you will turn to surgery, but will surgery cause more problems than the bunions themselves?"
Milian discussed her surgery, which was the second time she had it done on that foot. This is an important
fact, which is not factored in to the discussion. "The aftermath is very, very, very painful and involves slow recovery," said Judge Milian, who was in the eighth week of her recovery and said that at week four she was still in terrible pain.
We're not going to go into full detail here about the entire segment (you can watch it here), but what we gleaned from it did not make us happy. First of all, when bunion surgery is done for the second time, your podiatrist needs to go in and break the bone in order to correct the deformity. Not only are you dealing with the pain from the surgery, which can be different for everyone, but from the broken bone. Naturally, this will be more painful.
Secondly, those who are in pain from bunion surgery and have problems afterwards are often those who have not followed their podiatrist's post-surgical instructions to the T. They are likely not icing often enough, elevating, staying off their feet, and taking the prescribed medications. In my career of more than 30 years, patients who follow the directions I give them have great success and recovery. Those who do not follow my instructions suffer needlessly.
Third, how Dr. Oz portrayed the podiatric field and what we do was honestly insulting. He poked fun at the instruments we use during surgery, and overall made a mockery of our field. In case you haven't been paying attention, Dr. Oz, podiatry today is not what it was even 20 years ago. Our doctors have four years of medical school, followed by two to three years of a residency, which is standard across many specialties.
It is unfortunate that the report was severely one-sided. The segment had just one patient's account of having difficulties, and he did not even let the podiatrist who was on give a rebuttal. It is true that these procedures require several months to heal, but the overwhelming majority do well and have an improved ability to carry on daily functions more comfortably.
It is advisable to correct bunion deformities when they are moderate because as they progress they tend to be arthritic and the end result is not as positive and healing is more prolonged. We encourage anyone who has a bunion deformity to speak with a podiatrist, and not listen to a surgeon's advice. Please do not be dissuaded by one person's bad experience.
If you need foot or ankle surgery and do not currently see a podiatrist, call our Bristol office to make an appointment.
Richard E. Ehle, DPM
Connecticut Foot Care Centers
Foot Deformity Doctor in CT
Podiatrist in Bristol, CT
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