Not all bunions require surgery or even treatment
But if your bunion hurts or makes it difficult for you to walk, work, or wear shoes, you should make an appointment with a bunion specialist to explore treatment options.
Don’t ignore a bunion! The problem will not “go away on its own,” and in fact will only get worse. Accept your bunion, visit us for a consultation with one of our foot and ankle specialists, and learn how to keep your feet healthy and pain-free.
Conservative Treatment Options for Bunions
Conservative treatment can hamper a bunion’s progress considerably. Your bunion may never need surgery at all if you practice these steps.
- Wear the right shoes
The first step to reducing your bunion pain and slowing the progress of a bunion is choosing the right daily footwear. Incorrect footwear can hasten the bunion’s progress.
- Choose shoes with a rounded, wide toe box
This will reduce the pressure on your bunion and help you feel more comfortable walking around.
- Avoid high-heels and shoes with pointy or narrow toe boxes
These types of shoes can push the bunion and big toe further out of place.
- Wear shoes with supportive soles that fit your arches
Avoid flats with virtually no sole and flip-flops.
- Custom orthotics for bunion relief
One of the primary causes of bunions is midfoot instability. Adding arch support and hindfoot and midfoot control can correct the foot position and slow the progression of a bunion. Visit your bunion specialist to get fitted for a custom orthotic insert. Your orthotic can also be modified to take the pressure of the bunion.
- Bunion Pads
Another great option for dealing with bunion discomfort is bunion padding which can be purchased over the counter. There are several options available, including silicone gel sleeves to cushion the bunion from the inside of your shoe, moleskin to eliminate the rubbing between the inside of your shoe and your skin, and toe spacers which are placed between the big toe and second toe to help with toe alignment.
- Medications for bunion pain
NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can be applied topically, taken orally, or injected into the bunion by your doctor.
- Topical compound creams
These are medications containing the same pain relief drugs found in oral medication but compounded to be applied directly to the skin.
This topical analgesic uses menthol to stimulate a cooling sensation, relieving pain.
- Lidocaine patches
The patches adhere to the skin for up to 12 hours, numbing the area.
- Steroid or cortisone injections
These can help but should be used very infrequently. They can do damage to your foot’s soft tissues, thinning the skin and joint capsule.
- Regenerative medicine
New techniques such as platelet-rich-plasma or amniotic membrane injections can improve a painful joint.
- Exercise and Stretching
When your bunion is making activity uncomfortable, the last thing you might feel like doing is exercising. But you would be surprised how much range-of-motion exercises can help you feel better.
- Bunion Splints
A bunion splint is exactly what it sounds like: a splint that straightens a big toe joint that you can wear at night. They help to keep the joint stretched out to avoid stiffening in the misaligned position. They can also slow the progress of your bunion.
How will I know if I need bunion surgery?
While these conservative treatment measures can help you manage a bunion and slow its progress, they cannot “cure” the bunion. The only permanent fix is comprehensive (not cosmetic) surgery. Bunion surgery addresses the foot’s structure as a whole to remove the deformity and prevent the bunion from coming back.
You’ll want to explore surgical options if:
- Your bunion is regularly painful.
- The pain is limiting your activities.
- You are unable to wear shoes that are required for your job.
- Custom orthotics (shoe inserts) have not helped
- Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories (ibuprofen, naproxen) have not given adequate relief
Don’t wait too long to discuss surgical solutions with your doctor. Severe bunions can begin to cause arthritis in the big toe joint, sesamoid pain, hammertoe deformities, and dislocation of the joint. These problems will complicate your corrective surgery. They may be prevented if you seek surgery early.
Why choose the Bunion Institute for your bunion care?
If you’re experiencing bunion pain, we’re here to help. Our nationally recognized foot and ankle podiatry experts offer the most advanced bunion solutions and the highest success rates in the nation. Our doctors of Podiatric medicine (DPMs for short) have years of experience and are leaders in the research and treatment of all bunion conditions.
To schedule a consultation, please call (855) 814-3600 (24 hours a day) or make an appointment now.
We are conveniently located through the Los Angeles area with locations in or near Santa Monica (on Wilshire Blvd.), Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach, Northridge, Downtown Los Angeles, Westlake Village, Granada Hills, and Valencia California, to name a few.