How is a Bunion Treated?

 

Diagnosis

Before bunions can be treated they must first be diagnosed. If a patient experiences a bony growth at the base of the big toe along with redness, tenderness, or swelling then chances are good they have developed a bunion.

Once this likelihood has been established an intensive physical examination will occur, followed by the use of radiograph imaging. Taking an x-ray of the foot (or feet) will provide the following information:

  • The integrity of the bones and joints of the feet
  • Underlying conditions such as gout or arthritis will be revealed
  • The alignment of the toes can be easily calculated

Treatment

Non-surgical (conservative) treatments are the primary means of addressing the pain and discomfort caused by bunions. The most popular methods are as follows:

  • Rest: Weight bearing activity is minimized
  • Footwear may have to be modified: Wide, loose fitting shoes should be worn at this time. It’s also important to avoid high heels and to ensure that all footwear provides adequate cushioning and support.
  • Anti-inflammatories such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Medipren, Anaprox, Naprelan, and Aleve are often used to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Cold compresses can be used to alleviate discomfort and inflammation.
  • Regular stretching will reduce pressure on the joints located near the bunion
  • Orthotic devices may be introduced to reposition and support the feet.  Bunion splints and custom insoles are two of the most frequent orthoses used to treat this particular condition.

Cortisone injections may also be used at the base of the toe to reduce inflammation, although care must be taken to prevent infection, especially in diabetic patients. If the above measures provide effective treatment of bunion symptoms avoiding further irritation or inflammation of the bunion must be a priority for the patient, or this condition can easily reoccur.

Surgery is a last resort treatment usually reserved for severe or persistent bunions pain, at which point a bunionectomy will likely be performed. This procedure involves the reduction or removal of the bony growth followed by an attempt to realign the joints and bones. Surgery if often used as a last resort because it is not always successful; the bones may become misaligned again, causing pain and discomfort to reoccur as well. Proper aftercare, including any necessary modification to footwear and activity levels, may reduce the changes of the bunionectomy failing.

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