Do All Bunions Require Surgery?

You’ve noticed it’s difficult to fit your foot into your regular shoes lately. When you look more closely, you see what appears to be a growth on the side of your big toe. It’s likely a bunion. Bunions are bony lumps on the joint of your big toe. 

The bone and tissue are no longer in normal alignment with the rest of your foot. Your big toe is being pushed toward the second toe, which can cause further foot problems, like hammertoes. 

What causes bunions?

Bunions can develop for several reasons. First, heredity plays a big part. If your close family relatives have had bunions, you’re likely to get one, also. An injury or flat feet can also cause a  bunion. 

The problem could also result from an abnormal bone structure in your foot or incorrect biomechanics. For example, you could be overpronating, meaning that you place extra pressure on the inside of the ball of your foot when you’re walking. After millions of steps, the extra pressure on the joint at the base of your toe can force it to bend sideways, creating the abnormal lump of bone. 

The physicians at MichFoot Surgeons, PC have treated hundreds of patients with bunions, helping relieve pain so you can get back to your normal activities. If you’re developing a bunion, your board-certified podiatrist reviews your medical history, takes X-rays of your foot, and examines how your feet make contact with the ground when you walk. 

Do all bunions need surgery?

If your bunion isn’t hurting and isn’t keeping you from your daily activities, your physician at MichFoot Surgeons, PC likely recommends you don’t need surgery now. But bunions can get worse, cause severe pain, and hamper your lifestyle. 

Unless you’re in extreme pain constantly, your doctor is likely going to treat you conservatively to see if you can forgo surgery in the future. He or she provides treatments to help ensure your bunion doesn’t progress to a more painful stage. 

Conservative treatments for bunions

There are several nonsurgical methods to treat bunions; some of them are going to help prevent your bunion from progressing. 

Ice and medication

If you haven’t already done so, and if your bunion is hurting, you can ice a bunion for 20 minutes on and off for a few days to help relieve inflammation. In addition, you can take over-the-counter pain relievers. Your MichFoot Surgeons, PC physician can also prescribe a stronger non-steroidal anti-inflammatory if you need it. 

Wear shoes with a wide toe area 

If you’ve been wearing high heels with pointed toes, it’s time to make a change. These shoes jam your toes together tightly, forcing your big toe to move sideways. High heels can make a bunion worse. 

Visit a shoe store where someone measures your foot so you know your proper size. Select shoes that are wide enough so that your toes are evenly spaced when you stand up. There are many flats and low-heeled shoes in attractive styles, and your feet are going to be much more comfortable. 

Orthotics

If you’re overpronating when you walk, and the ball of your foot is rolling inward too much, your MichFoot Surgeons, PC physician may recommend orthotics. Orthotics are prescription shoe inserts made just for you that help correct faulty biomechanics when you’re walking. 

You’ll likely need to adjust your shoe size to fit the orthotics inside your shoes; your shoe size is probably going to increase by one-half. Once you’ve adjusted to your orthotics, you’ll wonder how you ever did without them. 

Injection

Your physician can give you a cortisone shot if your bunion is hurting badly. In a couple of days, you’ll experience relief. These shots are effective for a few months. However, they’re not a permanent remedy. 

Physical therapy 

Your doctor may recommend physical therapy to help you become aware of your walking gait and learn proper foot mechanics. The exercises and stretches can help increase your mobility and provide pain relief. 

Night splint, taping, and padding

Some patients don’t mind wearing a night splint; it fits over your big toe and winds around the middle of your foot to help keep the toe straight. If you play sports, you may try taping the bunion with kinesiology tape before vigorous activity. You can also try padding that fits around the bunion to keep it from rubbing against your shoe. Your doctor explains how each of these works. 

Bunion surgery 

If conservative treatments don’t help your discomfort, and your big toe is moving to the side, it’s time for surgery. Your board-certified surgeon uses the most up to date techniques to ensure the fastest possible recovery. 

Call MichFoot Surgeons, PC or request an appointment through our online portal for all of your foot and ankle needs.  

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