Right off the bat it must be stated that NO TREATMENT can get rid of your bunion other than surgery.
A bunion is a bone deformity. No conservative, non-surgical treatment can change the shape of your bones. Does that mean that if you have a bunion that you have to have surgery? Not necessarily. Whether or not you have surgery is always up to you.
You should take several things into account when deciding whether or not bunion surgery is for you, and ask yourself these 4 questions:
Is my bunion painful on a regular basis?
Does my bunion negatively affect my lifestyle by preventing me from doing activities I would like to do?
Does my bunion prevent me from wearing the shoes I’d like to wear?
If I have surgery will I be able to allow myself enough time to recover appropriately?
If you decide that you’re not ready for surgery is there anything else you can do?
Of course! But keep in mind that the effectiveness of conservative treatment will depend on the severity of your deformity and your symptoms. If you have a monster bunion that’s sticking out the side of your shoes then non-surgical treatment is not likely to be helpful. Nevertheless, in most cases it doesn’t hurt to at least try conservative treatment. The following are 5 options that you may want to try to alleviate your bunion pan and to keep your bunion from getting worse:
If Bunions can only be fixed with surgery, but sometimes conservative treatments, such as bunion splints, pads and custom foot orthotics, can be used to alleviate pain and slow the progression of the deformity. If you believe you’re developing a bunion the most important thing to do is to wear properly fitted shoes. Narrow shoes and pointed toes are certain to make the condition worse.
- The most important thing to do to decrease your bunion pain is to wear better shoes. If your shoes are too narrow they will press on the bunion area and cause pain and inflammation – wear wider shoes! If your shoes don’t have enough support then your arch will begin to flatten causing the muscles to pull the big toe more to the side, worsening the bunion.
- Get custom orthotics to wear in all your shoes - Supporting the arch will decrease the forces on your foot that make the bunion “lump” become bigger and make the big toe deviate to the side. Also, custom orthotics can be fabricated, by a skilled podiatrist, to decrease the pressure on the bunion itself and relieve pain.
- Wear protective pads on the bunion area - There are all sorts of pads available at the pharmacy or from your podiatrist that can hold the big toe straighter and decrease shoe pressure on the bunion. These can be helpful for the times when you absolutely “must” wear those tight-fitting dress shoes. Remember – never use medicated corn or bunion pads!
- Wear a bunion splint at night - There are a variety of splints available that are designed to align and hold the big toe in place while you sleep. These will help to keep the soft tissues on the side of the big toe from getting tighter and tighter until you’re unable to straighten the toe. Because there are so many different types of bunion splints, I would recommend having it dispensed by a podiatrist to ensure you get the proper splint for your particular deformity, because not all bunions are alike!
- A cortisone injection can sometimes reduce the pain of a bunion. I would NOT recommend this routinely, but it can be a good option for some situations. For example, if you let your bunion pain get out of control and are unable to even put on a shoe, then an injection may provide some relief. Or if you are planning on having bunion surgery and need some temporary relief to get you by until the surgery.
The first and best thing to do about your bunion is to have it evaluated by a podiatrist. Have weight bearing x-rays taken to check the serverity of the deformity and what would be involved with surgical correction of the bunion. Talk to your doctor and decide the best treatment options for your specific condition. If you would like to schedule an appointment to have your bunion evalutated call our Long Beach podiatry office at 562-433-0478.
Remember, don’t ignore your bunion. It’s only going to get worse if you do!