Got Painful Bunions? Learn Your Treatment Options

Bunions are a painful fact of life for many. About 23-35% of people who wear shoes develop bunions. Every step you take may hurt, and bunions are progressive in nature; they don’t get better on their own. When they begin to disrupt your life, it’s time to seek medical help. 

Our board-certified podiatrists at Ankle & Foot Associates treat patients with bunions every day. We’re trained in the latest advances in bunion treatment. In this post, we explain your options when it comes to problematic bunions.

Nonsurgical treatment options for bunions

If your bunion is mild or moderate in nature, a conservative nonsurgical approach may resolve most or all of your discomfort. The majority of bunions don’t require surgery. Your podiatrist takes X-rays to determine the nature of your bunion deformity and the type of treatment that can work best. Following are nonsurgical treatment options that work well for many patients.

Footwear change 

Shoes that squeeze your toes into an unnatural shape and don’t fit your foot properly are the biggest culprit in patient discomfort. If you’re a woman and love high heels, years of wearing them may have forced the bone of your big toe inward, promoting growth of a bunion. Switching to stylish flats with a wide toe boat usually helps ease pain right away. 

Visit a shoe store where you can have your feet measured and fit with the right size shoe. Feet tend to expand as you grow older, and you may need a half-size larger shoe than you’ve been wearing. The store can also stretch the toe area of the shoe to make it more accommodating for your toes.

Ice and medication

Icing the bunion area a few times a day can reduce inflammation. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help, too. 

Steroid injection

If your bunion is inflamed and very painful, your podiatrist may inject a steroid to calm the inflammation and reduce swelling. The injection may relieve discomfort for a few months, giving you time to decide whether surgery is the next step. 

Surgical treatment options for bunions

When conservative treatments fail to provide relief for problematic bunions, surgery is an option. There are more than 100 ways to perform bunion surgery, and until recently there was no surgical gold standard. The surgeons at Ankle & Foot Associates perform Lapiplasty®️, the latest advance in bunion surgery, which helps ensure your bunion doesn’t come back. 

Traditional bunion surgery

Traditional bunion surgery, called an osteotomy, cuts your metatarsal bone, which has moved inward toward your other toes, and puts it back in place so the swollen bony protrusion is gone. However, this method isn’t effective all of the time; sometimes the bunion comes back. Reports vary on the percentage of recurring bunions with traditional bunion surgery; 25% is a conservative estimate. 

Lapiplasty surgery 

Lapiplasty is considered a paradigm shift in bunion surgery. It’s a recently patented procedure that corrects the underlying cause of the bunion so it doesn’t recur. Titanium plates fuse the joint that’s unstable. The procedure corrects the direction of the metatarsal bone that leans toward your other toes, stops the bone from rotating, and prevents it from moving upward and causing swelling.

Another big advantage of lapiplasty over traditional bunion surgery is faster weight bearing. Lapiplasty patients can put some weight on the foot in about three days — much sooner than patients who have traditional bunion surgery and may not be able to bear weight for up to six weeks post-surgery. 

Contact Ankle & Foot Associates today for bunion relief and for treatment for all of your foot and ankle problems. We have 15 convenient locations throughout southeast Georgia and South Carolina.

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