For such a seemingly small problem, bunions can cause a large amount of pain. You may not even realize you have one at first, but the pain gets worse over time.
Sometimes, you can't put on shoes or even stick your feet under the sheets because the pain is too intense. At Optima Foot and Ankle in Bend, we know bunions can cause severe pain and limit your quality of life. That's why we work hard to help our patients navigate foot problems of all kinds.
If you’re not quite ready to undergo invasive surgery to fix the problem, here are a few nonsurgical techniques that may relieve the pain.
1. Swap your shoes
Let’s start with the biggest problem — your shoes. The leading contributor to the formation of bunions is wearing tight shoes that make your toes scrunch together. When your toes have to jam into too small of a space like that, it creates an imbalance and misalignment in your joints. Specifically for our purposes, it’s the metatarsophalangeal joint that causes the problem.
Your feet are very complex instruments that rely on every component to pull its weight, literally. Your feet have to not only support your body, but they must also provide mobility and balance. If you upset this delicate balance with footwear that doesn’t fit correctly, you’re creating the perfect conditions for bunions to form.
So, at the first sign of a developing bunion, it’s a good idea to switch out your shoes for ones that give your toes and joints enough room to do their job well.
2. Customize your footwear
If you place too much stress on any one area of the foot, it can offset the entire structure. Custom orthotics help spread the workload evenly over your feet, ensuring no single area is taxed too much. When we do this, we can often stop the progression of bunions, which relieves your pain significantly.
And since these inserts are manufactured to your specifications and goals, you can be sure your custom orthotics are delivering exactly what your feet need.
3. Strap and tape your toes
If your big toe seems intent on migrating toward your second toe, strapping and taping those toes together is quite effective in shutting down the development of a bunion. By holding your big toe in its correct position, we can keep the bones in your toes from shifting and developing painful bunions.
4. Fight inflammation
When bunions become painful, it happens largely because of inflammation that causes excess friction. To reduce this inflammation, we recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. If your bunion is resistant to this medicine, we’ll try injections of steroids, which usually work quickly to decrease the pain and inflammation in your bunion.
5. Ice it down
While it’s a fairly basic technique, icing your bunions when they act up is incredibly effective. The intense cold helps to numb your pain and keep swelling and inflammation to a minimum. This is one of the easiest therapies you can do. Just apply an ice pack to the area for five to 10 minutes at a time throughout the day.
If you're proactive when you first notice bunions forming, you can often relieve your bunion pain and avoid surgery altogether. To get started on a customized treatment plan for you, contact Optima Foot and Ankle to schedule an appointment.