Living With Bunions: What Can You Do to Relieve Pain?

Oct 13, 2022

If you have been diagnosed with bunions, you know how they can disrupt your life. Fortunately, there are plenty of treatment options available to treat bunion pain and prevent symptoms from worsening. To help you learn more about this all-too-common condition and beat the pesky toe pain associated with it, we have put together a handy guide below.

What is a Bunion?

A bunion is a hard bump that forms around the joint of your big toe (also known as the metatarsophalangeal joint or MPJ). Bunions are often painful and typically develop slowly over time. Most people with bunions also notice their big toes start drifting toward their second toes.

How Can a Bunion Complicate Your Life?

Although bunions are not considered a life-threatening medical condition, they can significantly impact your ability to perform your everyday tasks in comfort. Complications include:

  • Altered gait: Bunions can affect how your foot purchases the ground and supports your body weight. The instability associated with bunions will negatively affect your gait altering the function of your knees and hips over an extended period of time.
  • Poor balance: As your bunions grow, you may be less steady on your feet – bad news if you live an active lifestyle!
  • Increased risk of falls in elders: Older people with bunions are at increased risk of falls. If the fall is severe, they could even suffer life-changing injuries.
woman ache feet  in street

What are the Symptoms of Bunions?

Bunion symptoms can differ widely in frequency and severity. However, the primary symptoms to look out for include:

  • Swelling around the first MPJ.
  • Redness and inflammation on the side at the base of the big toe.
  • Tenderness around the big toe.
  • Constant big toe pain or pain that comes and goes.
  • Corns or calluses on the side of the big toe.
  • Big toe skin that looks shiny or feels warm to the touch.

What Non-Surgical Bunion Treatments are Available?

If you suspect you have bunions, it is a good idea to seek treatment quickly to prevent the progression of this deformity. Fortunately, there are many conservative options available if you want to avoid surgery, including:

Custom Orthotics

Using custom orthotics daily, will stabilize the foot structure, alleviate the pain and pressure on the bunion, and reduce the rate of progression. These devices are made from impressions taken of your feet by Dr. Bobrowski.

Wearing Roomier Shoes

Wearing more spacious shoes will relieve pressure on your toes and prevent your bunions from getting aggravated. When choosing a new pair of shoes, look for a shoe with a rounded toe box instead of a tapered toe box.

If you must wear your favorite pair of heels for a special occasion, limit the amount of time you are standing in them, and remove them as soon as possible.

Adding Pads or Cushions to Your Bunion

Applying pads to your bunions can reduce shoe pressure and provide temporary pain relief. Bunion splints may be worn at night to keep the deformity flexible, but they will not correct it. Do not wear a bunion splint while walking around during the day as this could cause damage to the first MPJ.

Over-the-Counter Pain Medication

If your bunion is painful, you can take over the counter non steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAID’s) such as naproxen or ibuprofen. However, it is not advisable to take these pain relievers regularly, as they can cause side effects. Dr. Bobrowski can offer practical advice if your pain persists.

Icing the Bunion

Bunion pain from shoe irritation or extended standing or walking can be relieved by icing the area to quickly reduce pain and inflammation – a great fix if you want to avoid taking NSAID pain medication.

What are the Surgical Options for Treating Bunions?

While many patients prefer nonsurgical treatments for their bunions, severe cases may require surgery. The recommended surgical procedure will depend on your foot shape and the severity of your bunion. The majority of surgical procedures include:

  • Improving the shape and position of the first MPJ by cutting and realigning the bone.
  • Balancing the soft tissues around the first MPJ by removing tissue from one side of the joint and releasing tissue on the opposite side. 

What to Expect From Bunion Surgery

Before surgery, Dr. Bobrowski will perform a thorough foot examination including X-rays.  He will contact your primary care doctor to arrange for a pre-operative medical physical to make sure there are no contraindications for the planned anesthesia.  Next, he will generate a surgical plan and share all the information you need to prepare for the procedure. 

Bunion surgeries typically take a few hours to complete, at an out-patient surgical center, and do not require an overnight hospital stay. They do however require several weeks of recovery time and in some cases, non weight bearing is recommended for a period of time.

What to Expect After the Bunion Surgery

To ensure your toe joint heals properly after bunion surgery, you will need to look after your feet in the following ways: 

  • Wear the surgical shoe, or CAM Walker all the time. Restrict walking to short distances, extensive activity is discouraged.
  • Use MLS Laser treatments to reduce post-op pain and accelerate healing.
  • Elevate and ice your foot regularly to reduce swelling and speed up recovery time.
  • Keep your wound and bandages clean and dry.
  • Take prescribed pain medications in line with Dr. Bobrowski’s advice.
  • Wait at least six to eight weeks before resuming normal activities. In some cases, recovery may take up to 12 weeks.
  • Undergo physical rehabilitation to improve your gait, balance, and range of motion.

Enjoy Effective Bunion Treatment With Crystal Coast Podiatry

Are you struggling with big toe pain? Do you suspect you have bunions? Do not hesitate to reach out to Crystal Coast Podiatry today. Dr. Bobrowski and his team will examine your feet and offer expert advice to improve your symptoms and quality of life. Call us at (252) 638-4700 or get in touch online to book an appointment.