Bunion Treatment Options
There are many non-surgical treatments available when your podiatrist confirms that you have a bunion. As every case is unique, any of the following may be recommended:
•Stop wearing high heels with pointy toe boxes. Wear flat shoes with roomy, square toe boxes to reduce tension on the big toe joint
•Wear comfortable shoes with good arch support
•At home, wear sandals with arch support instead of slippers to relieve pressure on the big toe joint
•Rest and elevate the sore foot
•When painful, ice the bunion or use warm soaks. Take anti inflammatory pain medications like ibuprofen or aspirin
•Cortisone may be injected by your podiatrist to reduce inflammation and pain
•A moleskin or gel-filled pad can be placed inside the shoe to protect the bunion
•Orthotics, also known as arch supports, can be used to transfer weight off the bunion. These can be purchased over the counter or may be custom made
•Use over the counter gel toe separators
•Socks made from synthetic materials – like those made for runners – will reduce friction on the bunion. Cotton socks may rub against the bunion and irritate it
•A Bunion Splint can be worn to relieve pressure on the big toe joint and point the toe in the proper direction. Available over the counter
•If you’re overweight, start a weight management program to achieve your ideal weight
If conservative treatments don’t reduce your bunion symptoms, surgery may be recommended. We offer a variety of different procedures to correct any bunion deformity; including revisional surgery to correct previous failed procedures. There is no one-size-fits-all bunion surgery. The goal of bunion surgery is to remove the “growth” around the big toe joint and realign the big toe to its proper position. Each patient’s foot is unique and your podiatric surgeon will discuss the various options with you.
A bunionectomy or osteotomy are the most common corrective bunion surgeries. They’re considered minor surgical procedures and are performed under local or general anesthesia on an outpatient basis in a hospital setting. You’ll return home the same day. In most cases, you’ll only be off your feet two to three days (think of it as a long weekend with a good book), and you should only experience mild pain for one or two days. In fact, some patients experience so little pain that they never need to use their prescribed pain medicine and make due with over the counter pain medicine.
After three days, you can return to work wearing a surgical boot to protect your foot and after 4-6 weeks you can start wearing soft shoes. How quickly you return to your normal footwear depends on the extent of your bunion surgery and how fast your foot heals. Modern bunion surgical techniques also leave minimal scarring.
Watch how a Tailor’s Bunion is surgically repaired.
In most bunion surgeries (bunionectomy), special screws are used to hold the foot bones in place as they heal. In some patients, the profile of the screw causes painful side effects, and a second, minor surgical procedure is required to remove them.
We offer a unique, highly effective alternative to traditional surgery that uses a heat-activated polymer called SonicPin to affix the bones in place, instead of screws. The polymer eventually biodegrades and is absorbed into the patient’s body.
Minimally invasive bunion surgery
PA Foot and Ankle Associates also performs the Cinderella Procedure and the Mini-Tightrope Procedure. In these minimally invasive procedures, the first metatarsal bone is not cut and smaller incisions are made, which greatly reduces recovery time and minimizes pain.
In the Cinderella Procedure, the protruding metatarsal bone will be shaved if necessary and the first and second metatarsal bones are tied together with a special suture material to achieve proper alignment of the big toe.
In the Mini-Tightrope Procedure, two tiny holes are drilled through the first and second metatarsal bones. Hair-thin, strong wires are passed through the holes and anchored to each bone. The first metatarsal bone is then pulled towards the second metatarsal to achieve the correct alignment of the big toe, which is then anchored in place.
Speak with your podiatric surgeon at PA Foot and Ankle Associates to see if the Cinderella Procedure or Mini-Tightrope Procedure are appropriate for your bunion correction.
In this video, we follow Lucia K. through her pre-op appointments, her surgery, and her post-op appointments (there is no surgery footage in this video). She describes her symptoms, the activities she’s had to give up, and why she waited 15 years to have bunion surgery.
See more videos on bunion treatments on PA Foot and Ankle’s YouTube channel.