Bunion Surgery for Runners | Runner's World

posted on 19 Mar 2014 10:10 by donnalifts

Bunion Surgery for Runners | Runner's World

I am 72 years old and have been a distance runner for 43 years. I"ve had bunions for the last 25 years. I"ve still been able to train and run races with no pain from the bunions. I am considering bunion surgery at some time in the near future. I think I would prefer to do one bunion at a time, and I realize there will be down time for each foot to heal properly. Currently, I cross train with weights and indoor stationary cycling. I would like to get your advice on surgery recovery and down time from running.



Dear Joe,

I always think back to what my buddy, Jim (sports med doc in Salt Lake City), says when we talk about surgery, "There is nothing a little surgery cannot make worse."

When it comes to bunions, I take those words of wisdom seriously. The key to your story, from my perspective, is "able to train and run races with no pain from the bunions." If you are able to keep fit and do all your activities without pain, I would forgo surgery until the bunions are limiting your abilities. Bunion surgery is not 100% successful, so if you cannot run, a surgery to potentially give you the potential to run might be worth the risk. However, if you are able to run and the surgery fails, you are left worse off than you started. There is also post-operative down time following bunion surgery that may limit your cross training for several weeks.

My wife has bad bunions and she has found great relief from minimalist shoes that accommodate the excessive foot width and allow her to walk-run with no discomfort. For hiking in the mountains, we went to Peter Limmer and Sons in New Hampshire to have boots custom made that would accommodate her foot shape without the pressure points of stock boots and shoes. Wide shoes, deep seated shoes with a full contact orthotic, and sandals that spare the metatarsal heads are other alternatives that work for many with bunions.

I hope this helps.

Happy holidays to all.



Have a question for the Sports Doc? Email him at sportsdoc@rodale.com. NOTE: Due to the volume of mail, we regret that Dr. Roberts cannot answer every email.
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Foot Pain: Check Your Symptoms and Signs With the Symptom Checker by MedicineNet.com

Foot PainView the Foot Problems Slideshow PicturesFoot Problems Slideshow PicturesWhat Feet Say About Health Slideshow PicturesTake the Feet Facts Quiz!
Symptom Checker: Symptoms & Signs Index

Medical Author: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

Pain in the foot can involve any part of the foot. Abnormalities of the skin, nerves, bones, blood vessels, and soft tissues of the foot can result in foot pain. Evaluating the cause of foot pain can require an understanding of the anatomy and physiology of not only the foot, but also the ankle, lower extremity, and lower spine.

Because we expose our feet to potential injury in our daily lives by walking, we have all experienced pains in the feet at one time or another. There are many common causes of foot pains, such as blisters and corns. There are also less common causes of foot pain, such as sciatica and osteomyelitis.Treatments for foot pain depend on the particular cause.

Health concern on your mind? Visit the Symptom Checker.


Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.

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Other Causes of Foot PainBlister, Abrasion Callus Dactylitis Hammer ToeTumor (Benign, Malignant-Rare)
Examples of Medications for Foot Painacetaminophen, Tylenol and Others acetylsalicylic acid, Aspirin, Ecotrin celecoxib, Celebrex etodolac, Lodine (Discontinued) ibuprofen, Advil, Children's Advil/Motrin, Medipren, Motrin, Nuprin, PediaCare Fever etc. naproxen, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn, Aleve OTC Pain Relievers and Fever Reducers

Atlanta Ankle Pain & Foot Pain Physicians | Peachtree Orthopaedic Clinic Atlanta GA | 404-355-0743
Atlanta Orthopaedic ankle & feet pain physicians
Atlanta Orthopaedic Physicians
Ankle Pain and Feet Pain
There are 28 bones and more than 30 joints in the foot. Tough bands of tissue, called ligaments, keep the bones and joints in place. If arthritis develops in one or more of these joints, balance and walking may be affected.
Every mile you walk puts 60 tons of stress on each foot. Your feet can handle a heavy load, but too much stress pushes them over their limits. When you pound your feet on hard surfaces playing sports or wear shoes that irritate sensitive tissues, you may develop heel pain, the most common problem affecting the foot and ankle. A sore heel will usually get better on its own without surgery if you give it enough rest. However, many people try to ignore the early signs of heel pain and keep on doing the activities that caused it. When you continue to use a sore heel, it will only get worse and could become a chronic condition leading to more problems. Surgery is rarely necessary.

You may view our Orthopaedic Resources for more information on all types of ankle pain and feet pain.

Peachtree Orthopaedic Physicians that specialize in ankle pain, feet pain and injuries are noted below.

James L. Beskin, MD
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John Chao, M.D.
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Ashkan Lahiji, MD
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R. Howard Pike, MD
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* This page contains general information and is not intended to provide care or education. Please schedule an appointment with a POC Physician who specializes in your condition.