3 Treatment Options for Bunions

May 7th 2016

Shoe Adjustments

Changing to well-fitted shoes may be all the treatment necessary to soothe a mild bunion that does not cause persistent pain. Patients should find comfortable, roomy shoes with ample toe space, and they should avoid high-heeled shoes that place extra pressure on the toe area. Over-the-counter, padded shoe inserts may also be helpful in distributing pressure during foot movement. Splints, arch supports and bunion pads are other effective options. Some patients may require special shoes prescribed by an orthotic specialist that are designed with uppers and insoles that redistribute pressure. These methods can alleviate pain while avoiding excess stress on the bunion.


Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen, acetylsalicylic acid, ibuprofen and naproxen can provide temporary pain relief while reducing inflammation. A local cortisone injection may be helpful in reducing inflammation that affects the base of the big toe. If the doctor notices signs of infection or skin breakdown, he may also prescribe antibiotics. If pain persists even with the use of pain relievers, talk to your doctor about switching medications or receiving a stronger prescription drug.


Surgical intervention may be necessary if conservative treatments are unsuccessful. Bunion surgery involves returning the toe to its correct position. The doctor may recommend a procedure that removes part of the bone to straighten the big toe, realigns the bone between the back of the foot and the big toe, removes swollen tissue from the big toe joint, or fuses the bones of the joint. The selected procedure depends on the severity of pain and deformity. Recovery may take several weeks to several months, but the patient may be able to walk on the affected foot immediately after the surgery. Surgery is often successful, but the toe may revert to its previous position in some cases, causing pain to return.


The foot deformity associated with a bunion can cause intermittent to persistent pain depending on the severity of the abnormality, but treatment options are available to soothe pain, correct the foot and help patients cope with their condition. After performing blood tests and X-rays to rule out other possible conditions such as arthritis, a doctor can prescribe one or several types of treatments. Shoe adjustments, pain-relieving medications and surgery are some of the major treatment options for bunions.

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