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. Once the pain and discomfort reach a certain point, it feels like the bunion takes over the 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—bunions included.
But wait! Does every bunion problem need surgery? Absolutely not. Dr. LoBello is not here to go on a surgical bunion bonanza. Surgery is only considered when other options have not or would not be effective enough at providing relief.
There are more 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.
- K-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.
The sooner a bunion is diagnosed and treatment started, the much more likely that conservative methods will be effective, and the more effective they will be. If you have concerns that you may be developing a bunion, you should not sit on them until the problem gets worse. Getting the right preventative treatment now can save you a great deal of trouble and discomfort later on!
Surgery for Bunions
Sometimes a bunion is so severe, or is getting worse so quickly, that it necessitates surgery to provide any significant relief. In other cases, a bunion might not be as severe, but conservative treatments just have not had the effects that were hoped for.
Multiple forms of bunion surgery exist, each involving different approaches to correction.
Some forms will cut the big toe joint and realign it into a position that is closer to normal. Other forms may involve removing the protrusion from the joint itself and not go into full realignment. And within these forms, additional 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 the ins and outs of all potential options, and what you should expect before, during, and through the recovery period. 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 grow into an ordeal requiring further intervention. Bunions can begin to develop as early as childhood (yes, even without the use of high heels or overly tight shoes!), so do not hesitate to reach out if you ever 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.