Is the large bump near your big toe bothering you? Did you look for treatment only to be told that surgery is your only option? Are you looking for a gentler way to treat that unsightly and uncomfortable bump? We’ve got good news for you. Surgery is not the only treatment available for your big toe pain. You can gain relief from that big toe pain through simpler and more conservative approaches!
That bump near your big toe is what your doctor calls hallux valgus and what most people call a bunion. It is not only one of the most common foot ailments out there, but also one of the most painful. It forms when the tissue or bone at the bottom of your big toe moves out of its original position.The joint at the bottom of the big toe gets a lot of pressure over the years, forcing it to bend. This joint carries most of your weight when you walk, which means that bunions can be very uncomfortable. In many cases, it becomes too painful to put on shoes because the joint is too stiff and sore. If a bunion is left untreated, pain can spread to neighboring joints.
What causes bunions?
Bunions are more common in women than in men clearly because of the kind of shoes ladies prefer to wear. Bunions usually run in families, but the way we walk or what shoes we wear can also cause them to develop. In fact, experts believe that small and pointy shoes that a lot of women and some men love to wear may be the main culprit. This type of shoes tends to push the big toe inward. The frequent use of high-heeled shoes may also lead to the development of bunions.
A person who has flexible joints might be able to tolerate a bunion more. Those with stiff joints might develop bunion pain earlier. Worse, the big toe pain is usually severe among these people. Hallux rigidus, or the arthritis of the big toe joint, is also common and causes just as much discomfort. Anyone with a bunion has to speak with a doctor. Your doctor may ask you to see a podiatrist, a specialist that can diagnose and treat foot problems.
How can I treat a bunion without surgery?
There are less invasive ways to treat bunions, and these methods focus on gently restoring the foot’s natural shape and function.
Choose the right footwear.
For a lot of people, the secret is simply wearing well-fitting shoes. Go for low-heeled shoes that are comfortable on your feet. It should have a wide toe area and lots of space for the widest part of the foot. The damage can be reversed simply by using footwear that does not restrict the toes and encourages natural movement. One that is lightweight and has a flexible design is perfect for someone with a bunion.
Keep your weight within normal levels
Excessive pressure on the joint of your big toe can lead to bunions. By maintaining a normal weight, you can delay the progression of the bunion and prevent further discomfort.
Make use of the right shoe accessories
Shoe inserts are important for people with bunions as they help position the foot properly. They include over-the-counter supports and prescription orthotic appliances.
Use a bunion splint
Bunion splints are popular products when it comes to bunion treatment as it can physically push the big toe back to its normal alignment. Wearing a bunion splint at night holds the big toe straight and relieves any discomfort. When worn in the morning, it provides support to the foot while you walk.
Use toe spacers
Toe spacers gradually restore the natural position of the toes. It helps undo the motion that causes the bunion to appear. Simply put, spreading your toes moves the bunion back in.
Perform range of motion exercises
As simple as range of motion exercises and massage can help treat bunions. It relaxes and retrains foot muscles to move toes in the right direction. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can help ease the pain caused by a bunion. Warm soaks, ice packs, and massage are also helpful.
When is it time to consider surgery?
If you are experiencing severe bunion pain, your doctor may suggest that you undergo surgery. Big toe pain that has been bothering you for over a year should never be ignored. In this case, surgery might be your best option. The goal of the procedure is to put the big toe back to its normal position and remove the bump. However, it is important to note that a bunion can return after surgery. Early treatment increases your chances of success. On the flip side, ignoring the deformity can make conservative approaches less effective. In this case, surgery might be the only option.