If you have bunions, you’re familiar with the pain of your bunion rubbing against your shoe. Other problems can include pain in the calf muscles, difficulty walking, discomfort in the ball of your foot or the arch, and problems finding shoes that fit correctly. If you’ve already exhausted other options, including orthotics and corticosteroid injections, you may be considering bunion surgery, often called a bunionectomy.
Is a bunionectomy worth the cost? Will it be covered by your insurance? Be sure to look into these issues and talk to an orthopedic surgeon to see if the benefits outweigh the cost of surgery and recovery time.
Try Alternatives First
If you’re considering bunion surgery, be aware that your health insurance carrier may want you to try alternatives to surgery first. This can range from wearing flat shoes and an orthotic to cushion the bunion to physical therapy or a splint worn at night to realign the toes and push the bunion back into alignment. If your primary complaint is pain, steroid injections may be recommended by your insurance provider.
These are less costly than surgery and have a lower risk of complications. If you’ve already tried these approaches, your surgeon can contact your insurance provider or send the documentation that outlines why a bunionectomy is needed.
Comparing Bunionectomy Costs
The price of bunion surgery depends on several factors, including the type of surgery performed. The most common options are:
. OSTEOTOMY – A small cut in the skin allows the surgeon to realign the joint.
. RESECTION ARTHROPLASTY – The damaged area is removed, creating a flexible joint. This is an extensive procedure usually only done if previous bunion surgery hasn’t been successful or your arthritis is severe.
. EXOSTECTOMY – If your toe hasn’t drifted inward and the bump can be easily removed, this is a less invasive option with shorter healing times. However, since the root cause of the bunion hasn’t been addressed, the bunion may return.
. ARTHODESIS – This is a complex procedure where the surgeon removes the damaged areas of the joint then inserts metal plates or screws to refasten the joints until the area completely heals. This is usually only done if you have severe arthritis and structural deformities.
. TENDON AND LIGAMENT REPAIRS – For some people, bunions result from tendons or ligaments that are too tight, pulling the big toe out of alignment. Surgery to loosen the tight tendons and ligaments can help realign the joint and toe into the proper position.
. MINIMALLY INVASIVE BUNION SURGERY – This is a newer option that uses only tiny incisions to realign the joint without surgically cutting through any tendons or ligaments. The healing time is reduced dramatically with this procedure. You can learn more about it at Northwest Surgery Center.
Cost of Bunion Surgery
In the United States, bunion surgery can cost anywhere between $4,000 and $8,000. If you have health insurance, check to see if the surgery is entirely covered or if you have a copay (usually 20%). Also, consider the cost of any lost wages and how long you’ll be unable to drive and do other activities.
Is bunion surgery worth the cost? If you have constant or chronic foot pain and difficulty walking, it’s definitely worth the expense and time. Determining which kind of bunionectomy you need is a discussion you need to have with your orthopedic surgeon.