Bunions are a common problem for many people, but most are not doing as much to manage their condition as they could (or should) be.
Part of this inaction may lie in the belief that the only real thing someone can do for their bunion is correct it with surgery. However, this is far from the case!
In fact, bunion surgery is not the primary form of treatment for this toe deformity. The main goals of bunion treatment are to provide significant relief to the patient and help slow or stop the bunion from becoming worse – and these goals can often be accomplished without surgery.
Part of good bunion care may very well involve steps and treatments you can take right in your own home. The more steps you take for self-care now—no matter how long you have had your bunion—the better your chances of surgery never having to become a consideration.
Fortunately, bunion care at home is as simple as following the alphabet—and just the first five letters of it, at that! Keep the following tips in mind for increased comfort.
A is for Alleviating Pressure
A bunion, of course, throws the structure of your foot out of its normal configuration (and you likely already had some imbalances that contributed to the bunion in the first place). These imbalances can lead to pressure on the bunion in different ways.
When it comes to your internal foot structure and the way it distributes weight across your feet, the use of custom orthotics can take excess pressure off your big toe joint. This not only feels better as a whole, it can take extra force away from further shifting of the joint.
Other devices, such as night splints, might be recommended for alleviating pressure. Whatever is recommended, it is important these devices be used and regularly maintained.
B is for Bend and Stretch
It can always feel counter-intuitive to recommend movement for a joint-related condition, but keeping your feet and toes moving is one of the best things you can do.
Just as reasonable exercise is recommended for arthritic joints, the same goes for bunions. Exercise that is focused on the joint and surrounding muscles and tissues has several benefits:
- Helping maintain range of motion within the joint.
- Strengthening the units that support the joint and help keep it from shifting.
- Lessening stiffness and pain.
Certain exercises will be more beneficial to you than others, and it is very wise to not perform any exercises that may be harmful or overdo it. We can help you determine the best types of stretches and exercises to perform on a daily or weekly basis.
C is for Chilling Out
When pain and inflammation strike, ice is often an effective method for finding relief.
When needed, wrap some ice or a cold pack in a thin cloth and apply it to the swollen, red area of the joint. Please note: never apply ice directly to the skin, as this may cause cold damage.
Keep the ice on the joint for at least several minutes and up to 15, removing it if the cold itself is beginning to cause pain. Repeat this procedure several times per day, as needed.
Cold not only helps relieve joint pain, but can reduce inflammation as well.
D is for Ditching Tight Shoes
Whereas your foot structure can cause some internally based pressure against your bunion, your choice of footwear can create some external troubles.
While there has long been a stigma that high heels are a cause of bunions, most podiatrists nowadays concur that this likely isn’t the case. Bunions are believed to be caused more by inherited abnormalities in one’s foot structure.
However, you don’t have to cause something in order to make it worse! Wearing high heels can not only be torturous to a bunion all in itself; it can help the deformity progress and worsen, as well.
Ditch high heels for good, but they are not the only type of footwear to avoid. Get rid of anything that has a tight, cramped, or pointy toe box. Ideal footwear should let your toes lie flat and avoid rubbing against your bunion as much as possible. Shoes with a flexible canvas or mesh upper can be helpful in this regard.
E is for Extra Easing of Your Discomfort
While ice, custom orthotics, and changes in footwear can be highly effective, additional measures can be taken for comfort and relief. These can include:
- Bunion pads made of moleskin or gel to provide protection against friction.
- Soaking and massaging the joint.
- Non-steroidal inflammatory medications, if needed.
Get the Help You Need, at Home and Professionally
Home care and remedies can bring you a significant amount of relief and functionality, and you may need to find the best combination of techniques that work for you.
We can naturally help you with this, and we can also help you if these methods do not end up providing the relief you need. Dr. Yuko Miyazaki can provide both conservative help and (if it becomes necessary) surgical correction of a bunion.
After a thorough examination, we can provide our best recommendations to help you find bunion pain relief and greater mobility!
The sooner you act on a bunion, the better. Do not wait for the problem to keep getting worse; call our Berkley office at (510) 647-3744 to schedule an appointment.
You are also more than welcome to contact us electronically via our website! Simply fill out our online contact form and a member of our helpful staff will respond to you.