Is There an Alternative to Bunion Surgery?
posted: Mar. 28, 2023.
Bunion surgery is a treatment of last resort that helps correct painful bunions that might diminish a person's quality of life. Although surgery is an effective bunion treatment, and the issue can go away for good, you can consider bunion surgery alternatives and see if they work for you.
These are the top alternatives to bunion surgery:
1. Loose or open shoes
Restrictive or tight shoes make bunion pain worse. They press on the bunion and cause friction, increasing the pain and worsening the condition. Switching to loose-fitting or open shoes can significantly reduce bunion pain, allowing you to walk comfortably. If the bunion is not advanced, this can be a long-term solution.
Orthotics are molded shoe inserts that can help correct the foot mechanics that caused the bunion. Changing the foot's posture as you stand or walk can redistribute the pressure on the bunion and relieve the pain. You can also get custom orthotics which a podiatrist can mold precisely for your foot.
3. Night splints
Splints are plastic devices strapped onto the foot to keep the toes appropriately aligned. Many people experience bunion pain at night, so attaching a night splint can help. It will keep the big toe straight and prevent it from pushing against the second toe, potentially reducing the pain.
4. Pain and anti-inflammatory medication
Pain and anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen can help reduce the swelling and pain of a bunion. You can take them orally or apply them topically to the affected area.
5. Ice pack
Ice packs can be surprisingly effective against bunion pain. Try applying an icepack for a few minutes to the painful bunion in the evening. It can help reduce swelling and pain, affording you a good night's rest.
6. Cortisone injections
If the bunion is advanced and the pain is excruciating, you can request your podiatrist to give you cortisone injections directly to the joint affected by the bunion. Cortisone injections (also called corticosteroid injections) can be helpful if the pain is not responding to oral pain medications and is due to arthritis.
7. Physical therapy
Physical therapy uses a combination of stretches, exercises, massage, and physical training to treat and heal musculoskeletal injuries. It can be an effective bunion surgery alternative, mainly when used over an extended period.
8. Protective footpads
Protective footpads differ from orthotics because they tend to pad a specific part of the shoe, not the entire sole. Since a bunion rubbing against the side of the shoe is the primary cause of pain, the pad can help cushion the bunion, reducing friction and overall discomfort.
Bunion surgery alternatives can help treat a bunion while you decide whether to get bunion surgery. You can get the best results from these alternatives by combining them. For example, you can combine pain medication with physical therapy and night splints. Speak to your podiatrist to find out which options can work best for you and whether you will need bunion surgery in the long run.