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Easing bunions without surgery

Monday 19th January 2015
Podiatrists can help people avoid having to undergo surgery for common ailments like bunions. Image Credit: wanderluster
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Bunions develop when the bone or tissue at the bottom of the big toe moves out of place, which can be the result of years or decades of ill-fitting shoes or abnormal movement putting pressure on the joint. This forces the big toe to bend awkwardly towards the others, which often causes the characteristic lump on the joint. 

Bunions can be painful and irritating for anyone that suffers with them, making most things more difficult than they should be. As they are on the big toe - which carries a large amount of weight when walking - they can make walking extremely painful and can make shoes impossible to wear. 

Podiatrists can help people in these situations who are looking to ease their bunions before they advance to a stage where surgery is unavoidable.

Seeing a podiatrist may not be everyone's perfect afternoon, as many people are uncomfortable with anyone else touching their feet, but early intervention by a professional can prevent a surgical procedure later down the line.

But how will a podiatrist help?

Shoe advice 

It is far more common for women to develop bunions than men, which is thought to be largely down to shoes such as stilettos putting pressure on the wrong parts of your feet. A podiatrist can advise you on the best shoes to wear to prevent your bunions from getting any worse, while they can also prescribe insoles to help take pressure away from the vulnerable areas.

Having the right shoes to support your feet in the appropriate places becomes more important as people get older, as stiff joints and conditions like arthritis can make bunions exceptionally painful. Although bunions will not go away completely without surgery, seeking advice from a podiatrist about suitable shoes can prevent them from getting worse and stop them from being so painful.

Non-surgical treatment

There are a number of things you can do to reduce your chance of developing bunions or stop them from getting worse. Maintaining a normal weight is one of the first things that a podiatrist may advise. Keeping your weight down to a healthy range will reduce the amount of pressure you are putting on all of your bones and joints, including those in your feet.

Professionals may also advise that you wear something to protect the bunion from further irritation such as a gel-filled pad, as well as giving you shoe inserts to put your foot in an appropriate position.

Massage is another element of a podiatrist's expertise that can really help ease discomfort or pain for people that have bunions. There are many techniques that they can use, even if your feet are quite painful, to reduce discomfort and make walking much easier. You may find that after just a couple of sessions with a podiatrist, your bunions no longer bother you.

If you notice a bunion, visit your GP who will refer you to a podiatrist who can determine what advice and intervention can help you avoid surgery. They are also the ideal person to refer you for surgery, should you need it.

Written by Angela Newbury

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