Bunions are bony bumps that form beneath your big toe joint. Sometimes, they form at the base of your baby toe, where they’re called a tailor’s bunion, or bunionette. Basically, these bumps form when your toe shifts inward toward its neighboring toes, pushing its base outward beyond the silhouette of your foot. Aside from causing a bump to form, bunions may also cause:
- Consistent or infrequent pain and swelling around your joint
- The site of the bony bump may feel sore
- Mobility in the toe joint may be limited
Why Did Your Bunion Develop?
As we mentioned, inward shifting toes lead to bunion formation. Now, many people think that wearing pointy-toed high heels can put enough pressure on your feet to trigger that inward shift. But it’s just not true.
Certainly, wearing high heels can speed up bunion formation or growth, but your shoes are rarely the true cause of this deformity. Instead, something in your genetic makeup or biomechanical structures created an instability that allowed the bunion to form. In certain cases, arthritis or an injury can cause that instability. But, in most cases, your bunions are inherited. So, if your mom or grandma had a bunion, it’s safe to say you’re at a greater risk for this deformity.
Non Surgical Bunion Treatment Options
So many patients come into our Medford, OR podiatry practice wanting bunion relief. But they’re worried about undergoing bunion surgery—and a long recovery period. So they want to explore non surgical bunion treatment. And there are certainly many options. Let’s highlight a few.
Once you have a small bunion, it will grow larger without intervention. But you may be able to slow or stop that progression by changing your shoes. What kind of footgear should you choose? First, find a pair that truly fits your feet. And choose one that’s got a roomy toe box, so it won’t press painfully against your bunion. Or add pressure to the joint, furthering the inward shift and outward bunion growth.
Additionally, it’s best to steer clear of shoes with high heels. When you lift the back of your foot, that places more pressure on your forefoot. And, since pressure contributes to bunion growth, that would be a recipe for your bump getting larger—and more painful!
Non Surgical Bunion Treatment: Can Cushioning Help?
Wearing closed-toed shoes with a bunion can be painful, as the hard shoe presses and rubs against that hard bony bump. To help reduce that discomfort, we can pad the bunion to prevent painful rubbing and additional irritation.
What About Bunion Correctors?
When you head to the bunion aisle in a drugstore, you may see devices called bunion correctors—but don’t be fooled by the name. Basically, they’re devices that slide over your foot and help create space between the big and second toe. Now, they may relieve some of the painful pressure bunions can cause, but they won’t keep that bunion from getting bigger. And they certainly won’t get rid of an existing bump on your foot.
Medication for Non Surgical Bunion Treatment
In some cases, all patients want is to get rid of bunion pain—quickly. And, for that, we can suggest over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, along with regular icing to minimize pain and inflammation.
Adding Custom Orthotics
As we mentioned, instability in your foot mechanics leads to bunion formation. Luckily, custom orthotics are devices that we craft to specifically correct your body’s biomechanical weaknesses. Therefore, when you wear an orthotic, you may be able to stop an existing bunion from growing larger. But you won’t be able to reverse its growth, or get rid of the bunion entirely.
Why You Can’t Cure Bunions Without Surgery
All of the non surgical bunion treatment options we just reviewed can reduce your bunion pain. In some cases, they may be able to keep a small bunion from becoming a large one. Or, in other instances, they can reduce swelling and inflammation without reducing the size of that bony bump. But here’s what they can’t do: get rid of the actual bunion on your foot.
Why is that the case? Once your inward shifting toe has pushed the base of the metatarsal bone outward, the only way to smooth out that bunion bump is by correcting the bone’s rotation. And the only way to do that is with bunion correction surgery. More specifically, our Medford, OR podiatrists offer a surgical procedure called Lapiplasty,® a 3D bunion correction procedure that eliminates the bony bump from your foot while dramatically reducing your risk for its return.
Why Lapiplasty® Works When Non Surgical Bunion Treatment Doesn’t
The patented Lapiplasty® procedure uses specially-designed instruments that rotate your metatarsal bone back into its correct position. This immediately straightens out the big toe, eliminating the bunion bump in the process. After correctly positioning the bone, we use special plates to permanently stabilize the bone. In that way, the procedure addresses any underlying biomechanical weaknesses that caused bunions to form. As a result, most patients who undergo Lapiplasty® never see their bunions return.
Now, it’s easy to see why Lapiplasty® is a superior bunion solution to non surgical treatment options. But why should you choose this procedure over a traditional bunionectomy? It’s simple: first, Lapiplasty® addresses the root causes of bunion formation, dramatically reducing the risk of the bump returning. Second—and perhaps more importantly—this new procedure is more accurate than a bunionectomy, performed with fewer and smaller incisions. That also means it’s more effective while being less invasive, so patients enjoy a shorter recovery period. Additionally, they have fewer—and shorter—restrictions on post-surgical foot gear. And many patients can bear weight on their feet within two days of Lapiplasty®, whereas that period could be as long as six weeks following a traditional bunionectomy.