bunion correction surgery

5 Ways To Manage Bunion Pain Without Surgery

A bunion develops when your big toe joint ends up shifting out of its natural alignment, leading to an outward tilt of your big toe towards the other toes and the formation of a bony prominence on the side of the base of your big toe. Not all bunions are painful, but most of them become symptomatic if nothing is done to slow down or stop the joint from continuing to shift. There’s nothing you can do to shift your big toe joint back into the perfect position, but non-operative techniques can certainly help to slow the progression of the joint shifting and manage symptoms. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at some of the ways you can manage bunion pain without a corrective procedure.

Non-Operative Treatments For Bunions

As we noted above, only surgery will be able to reset your big toe joint into the correct position, but pursuing non-operative techniques when a bunion is in an early stage can help to ward off symptoms and possibly prevent you from needing an operation down the road. Here are five ways you can work to address your bunion without a corrective procedure:

  1. Reexamine Your Shoes – Poorly-fitting shoes are perhaps the most common underlying risk factor for bunion development, so we urge you to take a closer look at your shoes if you begin to notice the early stages of a bunion. Tight and narrow-toed shoes are big culprits, as are shoes with an elevated heel, as this puts additional pressure on your toe box and big toe joint. Make sure that your feet spend most of their time in a comfortable, wide and supportive shoe.
  2. Up Your Exercise – Bunions can make movement uncomfortable, leading you to become more sedentary, which in turn increases your risk of gaining weight. The more you weigh, the more pressure your feet will be under with each step you take, which can speed up joint shifting. Pair exercise with an improved diet to maintain a healthy weight or to work towards one.
  3. Consider Low or No Impact Activities – We want you to continue exercising, but it may be easier on your big toe joint if you pursue some exercises that put a little less stress on it. Walking, cycling, moving on an elliptical or swimming are all ways to get your heart pumping without a lot of repetitive strain on your big toe joint. If traditional exercise like running is leading to bunion discomfort, swap in some low or no impact exercises instead.
  4. Ice, Heat And NSAIDs – Another way to help manage discomfort caused by a bunion formation is through a combination of techniques like ice, heat and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Ice can help to limit swelling, inflammation and tenderness, while heating pads can work to drown out pain sensations. NSAIDs can assist by resolving inflammation and providing some moderate pain relief, but you should only take these as directed and make sure that these drugs are not your only form of treatment.
  5. Monitoring – Finally, one thing you’ll want to do if you are dealing with a bunion is to keep an eye on the joint. As we mentioned earlier, bunions aren’t always symptomatic, so you need to keep an eye on the bunion to see if it is getting larger. The more severe the bunion, the harder it is to treat with conservative measures, so keeping an eye on its progression (or lack of progression) can help showcase how effective your treatment methods have been.

Bunion treatment is one of Dr. McDonald’s specialties, and we’d be more than happy to develop a conservative or operative care plan that helps you manage your new or existing bunion. For more information, or for help with a different foot and ankle condition, reach out to Dr. McDonald and his team today at (860) 244-8889.

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