Feet with bunions

Bunions are a common foot problem that many older adults – especially women – are living with. It’s estimated that about 1 in 3 adult Americans, and as many as 3 in 4 seniors, have this painful condition that can affect the way you walk and your everyday comfort and quality of life.

Sometimes, bunions are treated with a type of surgery called a bunionectomy. There are other solutions, too, that can help you deal with your pain that don’t involve such an invasive procedure. 

Let’s look into what bunions are, some ways you can treat them without having surgery, and when you might want to consider getting more serious about your treatment. Your comfort is what really matters!

What are Bunions?

Bunions are painful, bony lumps that can occur on the outside of your foot, usually at the base of your big toe. They develop when some of the bones in your toe are pushed out of place. While some people with flat feet and overly flexible ligaments could be at a greater risk of developing bunions, the experts aren’t really sure why these malformations develop. There hasn’t been a conclusive decision everyone can agree on. 

Some doctors and researchers believe you can develop bunions from:

  • Wearing high heels that crowd your toes.
  • Experiencing foot stress or an injury.
  • Having poorly-fitting shoes.
  • Suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Your inherited genes.

For many people, bunions may cause their feet to look different but they don’t cause much pain. This isn’t the case for everyone, however.  

Bunions can make it difficult for you to move your big toe because of their shape, and cause painful swelling, as well as corns and calluses where your first and second toe touch. 

It’s a good idea to come and see our podiatrists if you’ve gotten to the point where you’re suffering from a visible lump on your toe, you have decreased movement, or you have ongoing big toe pain and foot problems. Our doctors can also help if you have difficulty finding shoes that fit your feet properly because of your bunions.

Can You Treat Bunions Without Surgery?

The answer to this question is, yes, depending on how serious your condition is. Bunion treatment without surgery can consist of: 

  • Custom orthotics
  • Changes in footwear
  • Stretches and exercises
  • Wearing splints or toe spacers
  • Using bunion or moleskin pads

By talking with our podiatrists, together you and her can help assess what route could be best for you to take when it comes to treating your bunions to regain your comfort and movement.  

Custom Orthotics

Custom orthotics can provide better support for your foot and shift excess pressure away from the bunion. These orthotics can also involve increased support on the sole of your foot that transfers your weight. 

Changes in Footwear

Specialized shoes can sometimes also be helpful. Footwear made to treat bunions are designed to alleviate your foot pain and make walking easier. The only drawback to this type of footwear is that it doesn’t get at the root of your problem and it only works while you’re wearing it, much like corrective lenses for your eyes. So, while you have the footwear on, it may lessen your pain but once you remove it, your condition will persist.

Stretches and Exercises

A quick search on YouTube can provide you with many different videos on stretches and exercises you can do to help treat bunion pain. These stretches and exercises will help your foot maintain flexibility and mobility, while also strengthening your toes. Combine these stretches and exercises with the other ways to treat bunions without surgery, and you could help alleviate pain. 

Wearing Splints or Toe Spacers

Splints and toe spacers are another route that may provide you with some relief from your persistent bunion pain. Splints typically involve extra support that wraps around your big toe and the body of your foot. Toe spacers sit between your big toe and the second toe and help hold the joint in its proper position. When these tactics work properly they can help ease your discomfort. 

Using Bunion or Moleskin Pads

Finally, bunion or moleskin pads can help protect the outside of your big toe. These pads form a tiny cushion around your bunion and prevent it from rubbing against the inside of your shoes thus helping to relieve pain.

When Do You Need to Consider Surgery?

When it comes to painful bunions and those that distort your foot shape so much that you can’t find shoes to fit your feet, surgery is often the best answer. Other treatments may postpone further pain from developing but they won’t get at the source of your pain and cure it. Surgery for bunions can take about 45 minutes to a few hours to complete. It may involve an exostectomy (bunionectomy), an osteotomy, or a procedure called an arthrodesis. 

During an exostectomy, your bunion is shaved off. In many cases, this procedure is coupled with an osteotomy which involves repositioning your toe. Small screws and pins are used to realign where your big toe is sitting so that your foot can function normally. 

In cases that involve arthritis inflammation, part of your big toe may be removed and your joints may be fused. This helps hold the bones in your toe together and can help if you have severe bunions.

The good news is, however serious your bunions are, they can be treated to help you regain your quality of life. 

Need Help With Treating Bunions?

At Third Coast Foot and Ankle, we have your best comfort in mind. With years of experience treating all types of foot ailments, including bunions, we’re here to help. The truth is, the earlier you address your developing bunions, the better. If you leave your bunions to develop for too long, you risk having a severe situation that can be more difficult to correct. 

Reach out to talk with one of our amazing staff and regain control and comfort in your feet! We can be reached at:

If you prefer to contact us digitally, fill out our online contact form and we can get back to you to schedule an appointment in person. 

Treating your bunions can be easier than you think. Contact us today and feel the difference!

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