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4 Ways to Prevent and Treat Bunions

If you’re ready to treat bunions, you aren’t alone. In fact, about 33% of American adults have one. [i] (And that rate goes up if bunions run in your family, because they tend to be genetic.) So, if you have a big bump on the side of your foot, whether or not it hurts, it could be a bunion.

But what are bunions? Can you stop them from forming? Or, once they develop, how can you get rid of bunions? Today, we’ll let you know how we can protect you from bunions here at Louetta Foot & Ankle Specialists. But first, listen to what our patient, Iliana A., had to say about her bunion surgery in Spring, TX:

Dr. Walsh is amazing, she did my bunion surgery back in 2011 never again had a problem with my foot. Getting ready to have my other foot done soon. Dr. Walsh cares and listen to her patients concerns. She always goes beyond to try to make her patients feel better soon.”

Now, let’s get back to how we can help treat your bunions, too!

What is a bunion?  A podiatrist can treat bunions with surgery

A bunion, or hallux valgus, develops when bone rotates outward. The misdirected growth pushes your big toe inward, towards your other toes. And you notice a big, bony bump beneath your big toe. Sometimes, that bone rotation happens near the joint of your baby toe. In that case, we call the bony bump that forms a bunionette or a “tailor’s bunion.”

As we said, bunions tend to run in families. So your genetics play a role in your bunion risk. Also, the way your body functions can increase your risk. Because shorter calf muscles or Achilles tendons seem to contribute to bunion formation. Finally, the shoes you wear can make your bunions worse, though they aren’t likely to be the only cause of your bunion.

When you have a bunion, you’ll notice a bony bump on the side of your foot. The surrounding skin may be red and inflamed. You could develop more corns or callouses near or on the bunion. Your toe could be stiff. And your bunion could hurt, especially when you wear shoes.

3 Ways to Prevent Bunions custom orthotics can help prevent bunions

While we can’t guarantee you won’t get bunions, these 3 tips can help protect your feet. Or, they can keep existing bunions from getting bigger.

  1. Wear Shoes that Fit Your Feet

A small bunion becomes a big one when you put lots of pressure on your toe joint. You can avoid this pressure with better shoe choices. And, for some people, bunion tape can help prevent further bump growth. (Check out four different ways to try this move here. But come into the office to get guidance on the best way to keep your bunion from progressing.) Also, if you have a high risk for bunions, wearing shoes that pinch can increase your risk. Instead, choose shoes with roomy toe boxes—bye-bye, stilettoes—to keep the pressure off your bones and joints.

2. Check your Foot Posture

Poor foot posture can contribute to bunion formation. But what is foot posture? That’s the way your foot is positioned when you stand or walk. Want ideal posture? When you walk or stand, your toes should face forward, and your foot should roll forward from heel to toe (not inward or outward).

Don’t have good foot posture? One good way to fix it before bunions start to form is to…

3. Invest in Orthotics

As we mentioned, some genetic factors or body structures increase your risk for bunions. And that’s because they put pressure on your feet. But, when you wear custom orthotics, these medical devices support your weaker foot structures. Which takes pressure off your big toe joint, and may prevent bunions from developing or growing larger.

Treating Bunions with Surgery

You may have heard that you can treat bunions without surgery. But you have to remember, bunions will never go away unless we operate on your feet. Now, some non-surgical methods can help you manage bunion pain. Or they can keep small bunions from getting bigger. Still, they won’t correct your abnormal bone growth. So the bump you have now will never go away unless you schedule your foot surgery.

Managing Bunion Pain

Evidence suggests that wearing toe spacers may help relieve bunion pain.[ii] These spacers work to keep your toes in their natural position, preventing the movement bunion growth causes. In that way, you can keep some bunion pressure off your feet with toe spacers. But your bunion size won’t change. In fact, it may still grow, making this treatment less effective.

Some people find bunion pain relief from padding. With this pain management option, we use foam or gel to cushion your bunion, so that wearing shoes doesn’t rub the bump and cause you more pain. Finally, when bunion pain and inflammation are a big problem, icing your bunion and taking NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) can help reduce swelling and offer pain relief. But, at the end of the day, these options won’t get your bunion to go away.

Treat Bunions with Surgery If you treat bunions with surgery, our podiatrists help with post-operative care

The only way to get rid of painful bunions is to surgically remove these growths. While the words sound scary, our expert foot surgeons can effectively operate on your bunion without making you stay overnight in hospital.

During surgery, we’ll shave down or remove the excess bone. So, when you wake up, that bony bump will be gone. More importantly, we’ll realign your toe and its joint. We’ll also take care to line up your ligaments, nerves and tendons. In that way, we can correct some of the forces that made your bunion grow in the first place. Because, if we don’t, that bunion will keep coming back.

During surgery, we may insert supportive medical devices to keep your toe aligned. This will also help your bones from shifting again during your recovery. After surgery, you’ll have to keep weight off your foot for a while. Depending on your needs, you may be able to use a walking boot. But, in some cases, a supportive knee scooter could be a better choice. Either way, recovering from bunion surgery will mean keeping off your foot for a while.

Which brings us to our final point. Spring is here, and with it, sandals are about to become a full-time foot option. So, if you want your feet to be ready for summer days by the pool, now’s the time to get your bunion surgery. Call our office today: we’ll get you scheduled for a bunion surgery consultation. So that smooth, pain-free feet can be the highlight of any summer travel plans.