My wife suffers from bunions. When our child was about 5 years old, and she heard her talk about the pain they caused, she used to say “mommy has onions on her feet.” It was cute and funny, but for the millions of Americans that have bunions, it is no laughing matter.
A bunion is an often-painful lump of bone sticking out from the joint at the base of the big toe. The deformity occurs when the bone or tissue at this joint is shifted out of place, forcing the big toe to bend or curve inward towards the other toes.
Since this joint, known as the MTP joint, carries a lot of the body’s weight while walking, bunions can be extremely painful when left untreated. Often in people with severe bunions, the MTP joint itself may become stiff and sore, making even the wearing of shoes difficult or almost impossible.
How Can You Relive Bunion Pain?
You may be able to get some relief from bunion pain by:
- Applying an over-the-counter, non-medicated bunion pad around the bony prominence.
- Wearing shoes with an extra wide or deep toe box.
- Apply ice packs several times a day to reduce pain and swelling.
- Avoid wearing high-heeled shoes over two inches tall.
However, if the pain persists, you may need to see your podiatrist. He or she can offer several advanced forms of treatment for bunion pain.
How Do Foot Doctors Treat Bunions?
The sooner you see a podiatrist for bunion pain, the more likely you will avoid surgery. Some of the more conservative treatments that a podiatrist may suggest for bunions include:
- Padding & Taping – Padding the bunion minimizes pain and allows the patient to continue a normal, active life. Taping helps to keep the foot in a normal position, reducing stress and pain.
- Medication- Anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone injections may be prescribed to ease the pain and inflammation.
- Physical Therapy – Various types of physical therapy may be used to provide relief of bunion pain. Ultrasound therapy is a popular technique for treating bunions.
- Orthotics- Specialized shoe inserts may be useful in controlling foot function and may reduce symptoms and prevent worsening of the deformity caused by bunions.
However, in some cases the bunion may need to be removed surgically. When other treatments have failed or are no longer an option, surgery may become necessary to relieve pressure and repair the damaged toe joint. Podiatric surgery will remove the bony enlargement, restore the normal alignment of the toe joint, and relieve pain.
This can be accomplished with a simple bunionectomy, in which only the bony prominence is removed, or more severe bunions may require a more involved procedure, which involves cutting the bone and realigning the joint.
Please contact your podiatrist today to stay one step ahead of any foot care issues.