If this is your first experience with bunions, take a look at some bunion treatment options for alleviating pain, stopping the pressure, and reducing the risks of future podiatric problems.
Conservative Treatment Options for Bunions
Before you choose a treatment, you may need to learn more about bunions. These bony bumps can develop at the big toe's joint. Over time the bump can progress, growing larger and forcing the big toe out of alignment. This results in pain, pressure, and a noticeable change in the shape of the foot. Poor shoe fit, genetics, and some types of inflammatory conditions (such as rheumatoid arthritis) can cause bunions.
After the podiatrist diagnoses a bunion, they'll recommend a treatment plan. To relieve some of the pain, pressure, or discomfort of a bunion, the doctor may recommend:
- New footwear. Pointed or narrow-toed shoes can cause bunions. Too-tight footwear can also add to the overall discomfort you feel right now. A looser, wider shoe can reduce some of the pain and give your toes the room they need.
- Bunion pads. These nonmedicated cushions create a buffer or pad between your toe and your shoes. This can stop friction-related pain and make your feet feel more comfortable.
- Padded inserts. Structural changes in your feet can make it painful to walk or stand. Padded or cushioned orthotics provide added support and can help to position your foot correctly.
- Medications. The doctor may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) to reduce swelling and pain. Ibuprofen and naproxen sodium are common over-the-counter NSAIDs used for this type of podiatric problem.
- Cortisone injection. This prescription medication is given via a needle (injection) at the doctor's office.
While some patients find relief from these methods, padding, medication, and other similar option won't necessarily correct the issue. If conservative treatments aren't successful, the doctor may recommend surgery.
Surgical Treatment Options for Bunions
Surgery can help to correct pain that interferes with your daily life, chronic inflammation, and severe deformity of the foot. If the podiatrist feels you're an appropriate candidate for surgery, they may recommend:
- Osteotomy. In this procedure, the surgeon will create small cuts in the bones of the toe to realign the joint. To straighten your foot, the surgeon will use pins, plates, or screws to hold the toe in place.
- Exostectomy. An exostectomy is the removal of the bump on the toe. This procedure is often combined with an osteotomy to straighten the foot.
- Arthrodesis. If you have arthritis, this type of surgery is an option to explore. The doctor will remove the joint surface and use screws/plates/wires to hold the toe bones together.
The specific type of surgery you have depends on several factors. These include the severity of the bunion, other conditions (such as arthritis), the cause, and your overall health.