Bunions form as the result of wearing uncomfortable shoes, standing for too long, or not moving enough. If left untreated, uncomfortable and unsightly bunions can become extremely painful and even limit one's ability to walk or stand.
A bunion (hallux valgus) is a protrusion or bump that forms in the joint of the big toe, and occasionally on the joint of the little toe. There are several types of bunions, most of which can become quite painful if shoes are worn that force the big toe into an unnatural position.
The best treatment for bunions is to wear shoes with a wide enough toe box to allow a natural foot position. Make sure your toes are comfortable and no pressure is exerted by the shoe shape. If the bunion has already become painful, there are a few other remedies you can try: arch-supporting insoles, orthotics, sole padding, and taping the bunion.
If the methods described above do not work, you can try pain-relief medications like anti-inflammatory pills or acetaminophen.
Anti-inflammatory pills - Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is a drug that blocks or reduces inflammation and pain. Examples of NSAIDs are aspirin, indomethacin, ibuprofen or naproxen.
Acetaminophen - unlike NSAIDs, acetaminophens (also known as paracetamol) do not fight inflammation. However, they are effective at combating moderate pain. As with NSAIDs and most other drugs, if you are pregnant or suffer from a liver disease, you should contact your doctor before taking any medicine.
If the above methods fail to substantially alleviate your discomfort and pain, it may be time to consider surgery.
Surgery is an option only when bunions have become painful when walking, and when non-surgical treatments have failed to relieve your pain.
There are many surgical procedures for bunion correction, depending on your condition:
Surgery is done in an outpatient facility and is a relatively short procedure, lasting usually around an hour. Surgery for bunions is generally done under anesthesia.
Surgery will likely relieve your pain and improve your ability to perform your daily activities. However, some pain may remain. If you persist in wearing shoes that force the foot into an unnatural position, bunions may form again.
For the first few days after surgery you should keep your foot elevated above your heart for most of the time. When you do get on your feet, for the first weeks you should avoid bearing your full weight on your foot. Use crutches or a walker to support some of your weight when walking.
For the first few days after your surgery, you will take pain medication as prescribed to decrease pain and inflammation. You will also need to pay special attention to keep the dressing clean, but dry for the first couple of weeks or as instructed by your doctor.
If your surgery involves pins (stainless steel screws), you may have to remove them after a few weeks if they are temporary – or pay special attention in medical check-ups and imaging or TSA checks, if they are not.
Wearing your regular shoes will not come easily for a while. Slowly progress back into your shoes and do not force your foot into footwear that does not feel perfectly comfortable.
If your big toe feels stiff, try lightly exercising it to increase your range of motion.
The doctor will examine your foot and immediately diagnose the bunion. X-rays may be taken to get a more detailed image of the cause and severity of your condition.
Bunions can form because of a number of reasons, some of which are preventable and some not.
Are you suffering from bunions? For any questions, information or guidance related to bunions, get in touch with our specialty-trained, skilled surgeons at Marina del Rey Hospital.