Bunions are incredibly precarious to treat, and surgery may or may not be the only feasible option. Not only are bunions exceedingly irritating, but they can also affect your choice of footwear and change the way you walk. In doing this, a knock-on effect is pulsated through the entire body. 

Thankfully, there are various bunions treatment options available before considering surgery although sometimes surgery is just the best bunion treatment option.

When should you see a foot specialist? 

A foot doctor or podiatrist can examine your feet and confirm whether or not a bunion is present, followed by an ultrasound, x-ray or MRI scan to determine the bunion’s severity. If the bunion becomes increasingly painful or has life-affecting consequences, a further referral may be made for surgery. Generally, this is considered if: 

  • The bunion is extremely painful and becoming worse
  • The second toe is affected by the bunion 
  • There is difficulty finding any shoes to fit. 
  • The bunion is critically affecting day to day life 

Private treatment may be considered if the bunion does not fit in with the above criteria, and there is concern over how it looks. 

Furthermore, you should see a specialist if: 

  • Continual big or small toe pain is affecting everyday activities
  • There is an obvious lump on the big or small toe joint
  • There is a decrease in movement of the big or small toe 
  • Footwear does not fit efficiently because of a lump
  • There is an underlying diagnosis of diabetes

Bunion treatment options that don’t involve surgery?

Several non-surgical bunion treatment options available will alleviate pressure and pain but won’t get rid of the bunion. Including:

  • Ample fitting footwear- As a rule, you should shop where the width of your feet are measured first and provide appropriate footwear. It would be best if you considered roomy, comfortable shoes that are wide in the toe area. 
  • Using pads and splints- By wearing a splint or taping the foot in a normal position overnight, you will be allowing the toe to be held straight. 
  • Taking medication- A professional will always advise about the medication you should take. However, anti-inflammatory drugs can reduce pain and swelling. Cortisone injections can also be administered to help reduce swelling in the fluid-filled pads cushioning the bones.
  • Cooling or soaking- Relief can be acquired by taking a warm soak. Furthermore, icing a bunion will assist in soreness and inflammation. 

How is a bunion treated surgically?

Surgery will be performed to correct bunions depending on several factors, such as the level of deformity, the severity of the symptoms, the patient’s age and any associated medical conditions. Bunions have a variety of surgical procedures, yet no single technique is a universal solution. 

  • Cutting away any swollen tissue around the toe joint 
  • Removing part of the bone to straighten the toe 
  • Realignment of the long bone, connecting the back of the foot to the toe
  • Fusing the bones of the toe joint

Full recovery from surgery can take weeks to months. In rare cases, it is achievable immediately. To avoid the recurrence of bunions, suitable footwear should be worn afterwards. 

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