No matter how long you have been living with a bunion, we likely don’t have to tell you how much of an inconvenience it can be. It can affect everything from your shoe choices to how long you can spend time out walking and enjoying what you love to do. Once the pain and discomfort reach a certain point, it feels like the bunion takes over your day.
While both Dr. Fox and Dr. LoBello are knowledgeable regarding bunions in our office, Dr. LoBello is especially focused on this condition. During his time as chief podiatry resident of Huntington Hospital at Northwell Health, he received extensive surgical training on treatment of many painful foot deformities—including bunion deformities.
That being said, does every bunion problem require surgery? Absolutely not. Surgery is only considered when non-surgical conservative options have not been effective at providing pain relief.
There are many conservative treatment options than surgery for treating a bunion, and we consider those first before taking any invasive actions.
Conservative Approaches to Bunion Pain
A bunion is certainly one of the most visible foot conditions we see. It can be very difficult to miss that bony protrusion at the base of the big toe.
However, some patients may be surprised to know that correcting the appearance of a bunion itself is not always the main goal of bunion treatment.
In many cases, there are two priorities that sit at the top of the list:
- Lessen or fully relieve the pain being caused by a bunion.
- Take measures to prevent a bunion from progressing and becoming more bent out of shape.
These goals do not always require surgery to accomplish. In fact, if they can be accomplished without going under the knife, that is often the more preferred and recommended route!
What sorts of conservative treatments may be considered? It will always depend on factors such as the shape and severity of the bunion, the patient’s lifestyle, and the activities that they engage in as part of work and exercise. Potential options may include:
- Custom-made orthotics. These often come in the form of shoe inserts prescribed specifically to the shape of the patient’s feet. Orthotics can provide extra cushioning where needed, as well as help redistribute weight and excess stress away from the area of the bunion itself.
- Changes in footwear. Switching to shoes that offer more room and accommodations in the toe box can often provide significant reduction in pain and discomfort. Naturally, this might not be as effective a measure in more severe cases.
- Taping or splinting. These measures help to affix the toe in a more natural position. This can contribute to added comfort as well as helping combat further progression of the bunion. Different forms of splints, taping techniques, and cushioned pads may be recommended based on the situation.
- Prescription medications. For standard relief of pain and discomfort.
- Cortisone injections. Introduced into the painful big toe joint to help relieve pain.
- Laser therapy. An advanced pain relief and recovery option that uses wavelengths of light energy to stimulate the body’s natural healing processes.
One or more of the above may be recommended as part of an overall treatment plan. Additional options might also be considered.
If you have concerns that you may be developing a bunion, you should visit our office sooner than later. The earlier a painful bunion deformity is diagnosed, the more likely conservative treatment will be effective.
Surgery for BunionsSometimes a bunion is so severe, surgery is the only remaining option in or order to provide relief. Multiple forms of bunion surgery exist, each involving different approaches to correction. All surgical corrections have one goal in mind - get you the pain relief you need!
Some surgical options will cut the big toe joint and realign it into a position that is closer to normal. Other forms may involve removing the bony protrusion from the joint itself as well as re-align the toe. In addition to these procedures, other work might be performed, including removing arthritic joint surfaces.
Many factors must be considered when it comes to bunion surgery. Rarely is a procedure performed simply for cosmetic reasons; there must be a high chance of significant relief of pain and other symptoms to justify the action.
If surgery is on the table, we will discuss all potential options, what you should expect before, during, and through the recovery healing process. It is very important that you understand everything that goes into bunion surgery so that you can make a decision on how to move forward with full confidence. No question you have should go unasked or unanswered!
Don’t Wait on Help for Bunion Problems
We can’t state this enough: the sooner a potential bunion problem is addressed, the much less likely it is to become a big problem or require further intervention. Bunions can begin to develop as early as childhood (yes, even without the use of high heels or overly tight shoes). Do not hesitate to reach out if you have concerns about your own or your child’s feet.
Dr. LoBello and Dr. Fox welcome new patients all the time. To schedule an appointment with us, call our Massapequa office at (516) 541-9000. If you prefer to contact us electronically, you may also fill out our online contact form to have a member of our staff reach out to you.