How can bunions on the foot be treated?
Posted: Feb 22, 2022
Bunions are an annoying problem of the foot that can cause of a lot of discomfort that may result in surgery. They are an enlargement of the big toe joint of the foot. There are a number of treatment options to help bunions and the pain from them without surgery, but the only way to get rid of them is usually with surgery. The most important way to deal with bunions is to get shoes that fit properly and do not push the big toe over to create the bunion or put pressure in the enlarged joint so that it is painful. There are various type of pads that can be used to help the symptoms from the bunion by getting the pressure off the painful area, so that shoes can still be worn comfortably.
Can bunion correctors actually correct a bunion? The general answer to this question is no they can’t. While they are good in theory, in practicality they are limited in how much correction that they can achieve. The bunion correctors are worn at night as a splint and they are supposed to hold the big toe in a more correct position. They generally can do that quite well. The theory is that by holding big toe in that correct position overnight, then the toe will be corrected. However, after the splint that is worn at night is put back into a shoe that is probably pushing the toe back over again, any benefit from using the bunion corrector overnight is going to be quickly and easily undone. There is some evidence that they can help, but that evidence only shows that they can improve the angle of the big toe by a few degrees after a few months of use. There is no evidence that the improvement stays there after the use of the bunion corrector is stopped. Having said that, these splints are very useful at helping with some of the pain that does develop inside the joint and also helps at keeping the joint mobile and flexible, so that is a good reason to use them.
The only real way to get rid of bunions is with surgery as the conservative approaches tend not to work too well in the long term. The surgery is quite complex and is complicated because you walk on the foot so that recovery can take quite some time, perhaps needing quite a bit of time off work and away from physical activities. There are actually quite a lot of surgical options and the use of which one will be determined by the structures in your foot that are actually involved and the choices that individual surgeons will decide upon. The simplest approach is to just chop off the lump of the bunion. The more complex approaches involve not only removing the lump of bone, but also breaking several bones and resetting that at more correct angles. Tendons and ligaments may also be moved around. If you have a bunion, you really should talk to an expert to get an understanding of the options.
Craig Payne is a University lecturer, runner, cynic, researcher, skeptic, forum admin, woo basher, clinician, rabble-rouser, blogger and a dad.