Bunions are painful swellings that occur on the knuckles of your big toe. In addition to causing the big toes to curve farther than normal towards away from each other, bunions can lead to callused skin, tenderness, and swelling. Although their causes are not completely understood, arthritis, genetics, and ill-fitting shoes are usually identified as the root of the problem. While not a particularly serious condition, bunions can be extremely painful, and can make it difficult to move around and stay active. Fortunately, there are a number of different treatment options for bunions, which we will outline below.
Applying ice packs to the affected area several times a day can help reduce some of the symptoms of bunions, such as swelling. But remember, whether it’s your feet or any other part of the body, you should never apply ice directly onto your skin. Always be sure to wrap it in a tea towel or something similar, to act as a buffer between the ice and your skin.
Improper footwear is thought by many to be one of the leading causes of bunions, largely because bunions tend to change the shape of our feet. As a result, orthotics that correct the way our feet sit in our shoes can be used to prevent the situation from deteriorating, and possibly even reverse the effects of the bunion. However, as bunions vary so greatly from patient to patient, you need to make sure you know the difference between an insole and an orthotic, or you could make the situation much worse.
Bunions pads are reusable, over-the-counter pads that are (unsurprisingly) specifically designed to alleviate the pain of a bunion. Usually made of either gel or fleece, the purpose of a bunion pad is to act as a cushion against your shoe, relieving some of the immediate pain, and helping to prevent further inflammation by reducing the amount of friction the bunion experiences. Some of these pads are simply cushions that sit between the bunion and the shoe, while others can act like slings that attempt to pull the toe back into place. You’ll need to decide which of these, if either, is right for you.
Although the options listed above can be used to treat bunions by alleviating pain and preventing further deterioration, the only way to completely cure a bunion is through surgery. This is usually reserved only for extreme cases where the bunion causes so much discomfort that it affects the patient’s quality of life. Despite being saved as a last resort, the surgery can often be performed under local anesthetic, and usually does not require an overnight stay.
Bunions will never, in any case, go away on their own. If you think you have a bunion, may be developing one, or could even be at risk of doing so, you should consult with your doctor as early as possible in order to give yourself the best chance of preventing any further deterioration.