If you’ve lived with bunions for any amount of time, you know how painful and agonizing they can be. Sometimes they’re more of a nuisance, but other times they’re so tender it can be difficult to put on a shoe or even walk around. These painful bumps are bony formations that develop on the joint of your big or pinky toe. They often stick out, making it uncomfortable to wear most types of shoes, as footwear places extra pressure on this tender joint.
Bunions can become red, swollen, and painful. If left untreated, they’ll only get worse, causing you more pain and resulting in a poor quality of life. There are several methods used to relieve the pain and pressure caused by bunions and get rid of them altogether. Consider the bunion treatments mentioned here to slow the progression and reduce pain, as well as to enjoy walking again.
Bunions are usually a permanent condition that requires surgery in order to correct them. There are other measures that can be taken to relieve the pain and pressure of a bunion or even slow its progression. When your bunion causes excruciating pain and non-surgical treatments are not working, it’s probably time to consider surgery. Often, if a bunion is left alone and not treated with any preventive methods, other issues can develop, such as hammertoes or bursitis.
Bunion surgery not only relieves pain but also properly aligns the metatarsophalangeal joint (MTP) by returning the big toe to its correct position. The surgeon will also place any bones, ligaments, tendons, and nerves back into their original order, as well as remove the bunion itself.
Usually, you can relieve the pain of bunions through over-the-counter treatments or preventive measures. These methods will take pressure off the bunion, big toe, and MTP joint, reducing pain and inflammation. Try these conservative methods below for treating your bunions more effectively.
Wearing the right type of shoe can help relieve the pressure from bunions and prevent any new ones from forming. Choose a shoe that is wide and with a flexible sole that will support your foot, especially the arch. Make sure there’s plenty of room in the toe area and the shoes are not too tight. If you like to wear shoes with a heel, you still can. But be sure the heel is no higher than 2 inches. A few good options to choose from are sandals, athletic shoes, and soft leather shoes.
Protect your foot with either a moleskin or gel-filled pad. These are available at any local drugstore or discount department store. Not only will the pad relieve some of the pressure, but it’ll also cushion your foot so your footwear is less likely to irritate the bunion. If you’re going to use one of these methods, make sure your shoes have enough room to accommodate them. If the pad or cushion causes the shoe to be too tight, it’ll defeat the purpose of using it.
Semisoft orthotics, or shoe inserts, will aid in positioning the foot correctly as you walk. These are either available as over-the-counter arch supports or prescription orthotic devices through your podiatrist. Wearing a splint at night that is designed to hold the toe straight will also help ease any discomfort caused by the bunions.
Weak foot muscles can cause pain and problems with walking, which can indirectly influence the formation of bunions. Talk to your doctor about the type of exercises that are best for your particular bunion issue.
Using heat and cold can also help lessen any irritation brought on by the bunion. Ice packs can reduce swelling and inflammation. Soaking your foot in a warm bath filled with Epsom salts can also reduce inflammation and soothe any pain.
Over-the-counter pain relievers can reduce pain and swelling associated with bunions. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen are widely used to diminish tenderness and irritation as well as provide much-needed pain relief.
Cortisone injections are a steroid medication used to treat bunions. It includes a local anesthetic and a corticosteroid medication that temporarily relieves discomfort by reducing inflammation. While very effective, cortisone injections can have side effects. Be sure to ask your podiatrist about them before agreeing to this type of treatment.
A great way to alleviate the pain and pressure associated with bunions is to simply rest your feet. When sitting at your desk at work or on the couch at home, elevate your feet to reduce any swelling and pain. If possible, try to rest and elevate your feet as often as possible.
Massaging your foot and big toe can keep the tissue soft and the toe flexible. Manually massaging it yourself may not be effective. Consider using a tennis ball. Roll it under your foot to easily massage the tissue around the bunion.
Too often, people wear shoes that are too tight for their feet. Repeatedly squeezing your toes into a narrow shoe can cause the big toe to push against the other toes. This friction can cause the MTP joint to jut out from the foot. A doctor will do an evaluation to discover the seriousness of a bunion. First, they’ll measure the angle between the first metatarsal and the big toe, which is the hallux valgus angle (HVA). They’ll also take X-rays to get a better view of the bunion.
This foot condition also runs in families, as foot type is hereditary and certain types of feet are more susceptible to bunion formations. Feet characteristics that can lead to bunions are low arches, flat feet, loose joints, and loose tendons. The shape of the metatarsal head can also greatly influence bunion formation. If the head is too round, the joint is more likely to deform when wearing tight shoes.
If you have been dealing with bunions for too long and are ready to seek treatment, we would love to help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. Our goal is not only to treat your specific podiatric condition but also to educate you on your diagnosis as well as discuss ways to alleviate or prevent pain altogether.