A bunion is a painful foot condition that occurs when the joint connecting your big toe to your foot swells and starts to bend outward. If you wear high-heeled and narrow-toed shoes on a regular basis or you were born with an abnormal-shaped bone in your foot, you're at bigger risk of developing bunions. In some severe cases, surgery may be the only treatment option available to you, but there are several steps you can take before that to try to ease the discomfort.
Bunion Pads, Spacers and Tape
Bunion pads are available at most pharmacies and in the home health care section of most department stores. The pads surround the bunion and reduce the pressure that's put on the joint when you're walking. Sometimes, that extra cushioning is enough to help ease your symptoms.
If you're going to use bunion pads, your doctor may suggest that you wear a spacer at night when you're sleeping. The spacer sits between your big toe and the one beside it to keep the toes apart. This is important, because worsening bunion conditions can actually cause your big toe to curve inward, pushing your second toe out of its natural position. The spacer will help slow or stop this shift, protecting the integrity of your toes.
Your doctor may also recommend that you tape your big toe regularly. He or she will show you a taping technique that's personalized to the progression of your bunion so that the tape adds support to your big toe without worsening your symptoms.
One of the most common irritants for bunions is uncomfortable shoes. If your shoes are too tight, it can put a lot of pressure on that joint and cause you more pain. If you change the type of shoes you wear right away when you start to notice persistent discomfort in the joint, you might be able to prevent the bunion from worsening or get rid of it altogether. Choose a shoe that has a wide instep, soft soles and a broad toe. This eases the constriction around your foot and provides more padding under the joint.
Orthotic inserts are molded to your foot to help hold it in a natural position. This can help ease some of the pressure and discomfort around the joint. Wearing an orthotic every day may help to stop the progression of a bunion that's developing. A podiatrist may be able to help you with a custom mold that's precise to your foot.
In some situations, even these steps won't completely prevent the need for surgery. But, in many cases, they can significantly slow the progression of bunion pain, and if caught early enough, possibly eliminate it. Talk to a professional like Atlantic Foot & Ankle Group for more information.