Bunions can make walking painful and cause deformities of the big and little toe. As soon as bunions start, making changes to your footwear and adding support can make the problem less painful.
1. Start With More Comfortable Shoes
Bunions can occur from changes in the foot that occurs over time, such as those associated with arthritis. In some cases, they are caused by many years of wearing shoes that place pressure on the bones. Regardless of the underlying cause, you will need to make the transition to shoes that are more comfortable and give your feet plenty of space.
Generally, these will be shoes that fit well, in both length and width. Additionally, the shoes you choose should have a wider toe box so that they do not add pressure to your big or little toes. Shoes with slightly rounded or square toe box are generally more comfortable than shoes with a pointy toe box. You should also select shoes with a sturdy sole, so they provide support and cushion your feet.
2. Try Orthotics
There are some orthotics you can purchase yourself, but you may need to consult with a podiatrist to find the best orthotic for your needs. The orthotics you find at retail are more likely to provide your feet with more cushion, so you experience less pain. These orthotics fit over the big toe, but you can find options that fit over the big and little toe if you have bunions in both locations. Ideally, you will use orthotics to provide cushion along the side and bottom of your feet for maximum comfort.
Custom orthotics can do more in some cases than simply provide cushioning. Since your podiatrist can determine if you have any deformities that contribute to bunions, they can have orthotics designed to improve the overall biomechanics of the foot and improve bunions or at least prevent further deformity.
3. Consider Bunion Surgery
In some cases, the pain associated with bunions can be overwhelming, and surgery might be the only option. There are different types of procedures that might be performed alone or in combination to correct bunions. Typically, the bone of the affected toe will need to be realigned, so it sits in a normal position. This can involve removing any damaged bone and adding metal supports to fixate the joint. If there is excess bone growth on the outside of the toe, this is typically removed.
Some people may have made changes to the supporting structures of the toe, such as the ligaments and tendons, that need to be fixed to straighten and fix the toe successfully. Physical therapy after bunion surgery may be necessary to regain strength and motion after the procedure and to improve walking.
There are several ways to reduce the pain associated with bunions. When the problem is addressed early, surgery may not always be necessary to alleviate pain and walk normally.