Bunions can be bumps in the road to you living your best life. Because how can you enjoy much of anything if your feet hurt?
In some cases, bunions are just there—painless, bony protrusions under your big toes. If your bunions aren’t causing problems, there’s a good chance your doctor will recommend leaving them alone. But if they hurt, swell, cause corns or calluses, limit your toe movement, or make it hard to find shoes to fit, you might want to consider taking action. The good news is there’s plenty you can do to solve this bumpy issue.
Surgery probably isn’t the first solution your podiatrist will suggest to correct bunion pain. (And if you happen to have a bunionette—which occurs on the outside of your foot rather than the inside—nonsurgical treatments are probably the best way to relieve your discomfort.)
Here are a few non-surgical options.
- Change your shoes. More than your bunions probably hurt if you’re regularly wearing stiletto heels, or anything similar. Give your feet a break with lower-heeled, wider, softer options. (If you’re a little bit vain, don’t worry. Manufacturers are making lots of good-looking, healthier shoe styles these days.)
- Add padding. Your local drug store is full of footpads, toe separators, gel toe caps, and the like, and they’re all made to relieve your discomfort.
- Try shoe inserts. You can buy insoles in your size or custom order them. They’re made to improve your balance and alignment by dispersing your weight more evenly.
- Apply ice. Icing your bunions after you’ve been on your feet all day, or if they become inflamed, can help relieve pain and swelling. (If you have numbness or circulation problems, consult a doctor before you try this.)
- Take medication. Most over-the-counter pain medications will provide temporary relief from the pain and inflammation caused by bunions.
- Get cortisone injections. These injections can relieve your discomfort by reducing inflammation.
If you try the alternatives, but none work, your podiatrist might recommend a surgical procedure called a bunionectomy. The surgery removes bunions and, oftentimes, moves your toes back into the correct position.
Recovery time for a bunionectomy is from six to twelve weeks. You’ll be able to move around, but you will probably be asked to wear a protective boot as you heal. You might not be able to put all of your weight on your foot and physical therapy might also be prescribed.
When you have bunion surgery, your surgeon could use a few different techniques:
- Exostectomy: Your surgeon shaves off the bunion.
- Osteotomy: Your surgeon makes small incisions in your bones and uses pins or screws to realign your big toe. (This procedure is the most common surgical method for correcting bunions.)
- Arthrodesis: Your surgeon removes parts of your big toe joint that have arthritis and puts screws in your toe to hold the bones together as they heal.
You shouldn’t have to live with pain and swelling from bunions. If you have questions about the surgical procedures available to correct bunions, check out our surgical site at HancockSurgery.com, or if you want to know which treatment might be right for you, contact Dr. Wil Adams at Hancock Orthopedics.