A bunion is a bone that is shifted from the normal alignment near the big toe joint. This prominent bone is a result of a structural malalignment of the big toe joint. Despite the fact that some people consider bunions only a cosmetic problem, they can be very painful or become so over time. The most common symptoms of bunions are redness in the place of the boney prominence, swelling, and calluses (patches of hardened skin).
A bunion can make it difficult to wear shoes and can significantly affect your everyday activities. Most people with bunions are looking for different treatments before choosing bunion surgery. Some bunion treatments are able to ease the symptoms, while others focus on returning the normal alignment.
1. Foot orthotics
Shoe inserts are one of the methods that help treat bunions. They provide structural support for the foot, which can improve the alignment of the foot and limit the progression of the bunion as well. There are no special orthotics for bunions but your podiatrist can create a custom orthotic that would be specifically designed for a particular type of foot.
2. Foot exercises
Exercises for the feet and ankles can be useful for people who have bunions. A bunion can form from muscle imbalance in the joint of the big toe and performing certain exercises can help counteract the forces that form the bunion. Bunion exercises are divided into two types such as muscle strengthening and range of motion.
These exercises that develop the main muscles of the foot and include grabbing objects with the toes and spreading the toes. Raising balls or a towel with the help of your toes activates the deep muscles of your foot. The manual range of motion of the big toe joint makes it more flexible and movable.
3. Pads and splints
Bunion pads and splints are tools that are placed on the foot to ease bunion symptoms and to eliminate structural misalignment. Bunion pads provide a layer of cushion for the bunion that separates it from the shoe and reduces or relieves pressure irritation. Bunion splints push the big toe into its normal alignment.
Some bunion splints can be worn throughout the day in shoes. But night splints are probably the best treatment that can reverse the bunion formation. These night splints for bunions can be massive and this makes people less likely to continue wearing them in the long run.
4. Pain medication
If your bunions become painful than topical and oral painkillers can relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Topical creams are able to soothe even acute bunion pain. Methylated creams create a cooling sensation that distracts you from the main discomfort. Creams containing capsaicin (a substance that is found in chili peppers) have analgesic and possible anti-inflammatory properties. Oral medications (such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can be very helpful, especially when bunions are accompanied by pain, swelling, and redness.
5. Bunion surgery
Although there are a lot of bunion treatments, bunion surgery is the single method that is able to correct the bunion. This procedure involves the structural adjustment of displaced bones. Bunion surgery usually involves cutting a bone to flatten the upper part (Austin bunionectomy) or the lower part of the bone or rearranging the entire bone using a bone fusion procedure in the lower part of the rejected bone (Lapidus bunionectomy). The recovery after the bunion surgery takes around 6 weeks until the bones are restored. Modern bunion surgery methods allow you to walk right after the procedure.