Available Treatments for Bunion Pain

by | Feb 22, 2023

Bony bumps that form due to a misalignment of the toe joint, are a painful reality for millions of people in America, most of whom are women.  Bunions most often develop on the side of the big toe. However, they may also develop on the outside of the little toe. When they form adjacent to the pinky toe, they are referred to as a Tailor’s bunion or bunionette. Although in many cases, bunions are perhaps unsightly, but painless, in other cases bunion pain can be severe.  Fortunately, there are a variety of treatments that can provide relief from bunion pain, ranging from lifestyle modifications to bunion surgery. 

bunion pain

How Is Bunion Pain Treated?

Pain from bunions may be constant, or you may experience flares of pain. The pain may range from mildly irritating to excruciating. The frequency and severity of your pain will determine the treatment that your podiatrist recommends. Non-surgical treatments for bunion pain include:

Changing Your Footwear

If you have bunions, high heels and shoes with narrow toe boxes will have to be exchanged for shoes with a lower or wider heel, and a wider shoe box. Sneakers, sandals, and shoes free of tight straps or made of rigid materials will exacerbate the pain.

Padding the Protrusion

If the pain only flares up occasionally, adding bunion pads can help to provide cushioning that may make wearing shoes more comfortable.

Custom Orthotics

Your podiatrist may recommend that you wear custom orthotics (shoe inserts) to manage the alignment of your toes. 

Physical Therapy 

Specialized exercises that help improve muscle strength may help to improve alignment in the toes, which may help to reduce pain. The exercises may be used in conjunction with medical massage or ultrasound therapy to help reduce inflammation. 

Anti-Inflammatory Medications (NSAIDs)

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be used in conjunction with ice packs to mitigate swelling and provide pain relief.

Steroid Injections

Steroid injections are a non-surgical treatment for bunion pain that may be considered by your podiatrist as a last-ditch effort to avoid bunion surgery. Steroid injections can only be given a few times per year due to the potential to damage the cartilage within a joint.

bunion pain

Surgery to Treat Bunions

Bunion surgery will only be considered if all non-surgical treatments have failed to provide relief. Known as a bunionectomy, there are two types of surgeries that can correct the bony deformity. A head procedure involves cutting the bone behind the joint. The bone is then realigned and secured in its proper place using screws. The head procedure is often used for smaller bunions and offers an expedited recovery time. 

The second surgical approach is called a base procedure because it focuses on the base of the bone. This technique is often necessary for large bunions. In some cases a wedge of the bone is removed, the bone is rotated, and the joint is fused. In other cases, a 3D realignment of the joint will be performed, which is likely to prevent a recurrence of the bunion.

Risk Factors for Developing Bunions

Anyone can develop a bunion, but certain risk factors may increase your likelihood of developing this often painful bony protrusion. Risk factors for bunions include: 

  • Biological sex
    Females are more likely to develop bunions.
  • Age
    Older people are more likely to develop bunions.
  • Congenital deformities
    Structural defects in the feet can increase the risk of bunions.
  • Family history
    Bunions frequently run in families. 
  • Narrow footwear
    Wearing narrow shoes with high heels can contribute to bunion development.
  • Previous foot injuries
    Repeated stress or acute foot injuries increase the risk of developing a bunion.
  • Inflammatory diseases/rheumatic diseases
    Inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis may increase your risk of bunions. 

Book an Appointment for Bunion Treatment in Eugene

Bunions can make life painful and difficult. If you’re suffering from pain due to a bunion, our expert podiatric physicians and surgeons can help. Request an appointment online or call 541-683-3351. 

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