postheadericon What are the Treatment Options for Bunions?

Also known as hallux valgus, bunion is the bony deformity of the joint found at the base of the big toe.

Treatment intervention for the condition can range from non-invasive (conventional) to bunions surgery.

The treatment option chosen will be based on the severity of the condition.

What are the common symptoms?

Common indicators that signal bunions include the following:

  • Bony and swollen bump manifesting on the outside edge of the foot.
  • Pain and swelling of the joint of the big toe (symptoms often worsen when wearing the ill-fitting footwear).
  • Hard, callused, and red skin (this is caused by the overlapping of the second and the big toes).
  • Sore skin (on the area affected).
  • Obvious change in the shape of the affected foot (this would often make finding shoes especially challenging).

When left untreated, there is a tendency for the symptoms to worsen over time.

In line with this, it is advisable to have the condition checked as early as possible before it complicates.

What are the treatment options for bunions?

In most cases, the condition is first treated using conservative alternatives like orthotics, painkillers, bunions pads, etc.

However, if the symptoms are severe and conservative treatment alternatives have proved futile, surgery for the bunions will be recommended.

The kind of surgery performed will depend on several key factors including:

  • The severity of the symptoms
  • The deformity level
  • The age of the patient
  • Other medical conditions

Conservative Treatment Options

Non-surgical options for bunions can help lessen the discomfort and alleviate the pain but it cannot prevent the condition from getting worse.

Conventional treatment interventions include:

  • Painkillers

If the condition is painful, over-the-counter or OTC medications like ibuprofen, paracetamol, etc. will be given.

When taking OTC painkillers, consider it a must to always check the patient information so you will know the recommended dosage.

  • Orthotics

Orthotics are used to help realign the bones of the foot.

Also considered helpful in minimizing the pain, orthotics has also been known to help relieve the strain and stress on the bunion.

Depending on the personal circumstances and the severity, OTC or custom-made orthotics might be recommended.

To play safe, it would be best to check with a podiatrist first before purchasing so  you will know the best option for your case.

  • Ice Packs

If the area affected is painful and swollen, applying ice pack daily (several times) is recommended.

Applying ice on the bunion has been known to help provide inflammation and pain relief.

Word of caution: applying ice directly on the skin is not recommended.

For best results, wrapping the ice in cloth or towel is advisable.


Depending on the severity of the condition, there are different surgical procedures that may be recommended.

Some of the surgical procedures available include:

  • Excision arthroplasty

This procedure will entail removal of both the bunion and the toe joint.

It also involves using wires to pin the joints in place. The wires are removed on the third week after the procedure.

This type of surgery is often recommended when the condition has become severe and troublesome.

  • Osteotomy

This is one of the most common surgical interventions for bunions.

While there are different types of osteotomy, essentially, this procedure will involve cutting and removing a part of the bone in the toe affected.

Once the bony lump has been removed, realignment of the bones in the big toe will be done.

This procedure is often combined with another procedure called distal tissue realignment.

Distal tissue realignment involves altering the tissues in the foot affected.

Aside from correcting the deformity, distal tissue realignment is also done to improve the foot’s stability and appearance.

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