Bunions have a way of making their presence increasingly known in your daily life.
There’s the way that bony bump rubs uncomfortably up against your shoes. The corns and calluses that form as your toe shifts against its neighbors. The redness, swelling, and pain that can make the thought of an extended day out miserable.
And left alone, you can expect a bunion and its symptoms to gradually grow worse over time. You’re likely already aware of that.
But no matter how long you have lived with a bunion, seeking treatment can help you live a more comfortable life. And in a many cases, significant, life-changing relief can be found without the need for surgery!
Whether you believe you might just be starting to get a bunion, or have had one for years, seeking treatment sooner is always better. Call our Sierra Tower Building office at (915) 533-5151 or our George Dieter Drive office at (915) 856-3331 to take the first step now.
The Goals of Bunion Treatment
Although it might feel counterintuitive, the primary goal of bunion surgery is not making the bunion itself “disappear.”
When it comes to patient treatment, the main mission objections for most doctors is:
- Relieve the symptoms of a bunion (and enable the patient’s return to full activity) as well as reasonably possible
- Help prevent the bunion from becoming progressively worse.
If these goals can be achieved without surgery, then a more conservative route of treatment will almost always be preferred. That’s why seeking our help as early as possible is so important: the earlier in its life that a bunion is addressed, the more likely that non-surgical methods will be effective.
That doesn’t mean that conservative treatments are doomed to fail even if your bunion is more advanced! However, there are cases that simply don’t respond very well to conservative treatment, or it would be clear from the start that they would not. Surgery might then be considered as a means of providing pain relief, or maintaining or restoring mobility.
Conservative Bunion Treatments
How can a bunion be treated without surgery? There are multiple methods, and an overall treatment plan may contain several of them.
Here are a few common methods of conservative bunion treatment:
- Changes in footwear. Switching to shoes that provide more room for your toes and don’t force excess pressure toward the front of the foot can provide for some quick improvements to bunion symptoms.
- Custom orthotics. When supportive footwear isn’t enough in itself, custom orthotic inserts can shift even more weight and force away from your unstable toe joint, as well as provide further cushioning to painful areas.
- Stretching and exercise. Stretches and exercises focused on the feet, toes, and ankles can help relieve pain and stiffness, as well as condition supporting muscles and tissues to maintain stability in your toe joint.
- Padding. Bunion pads and cushions can be an effective go-to for reducing friction against the inside of shoes and between toes, lessening instances of corns, calluses, and simple raw inflammation of the skin.
- Icing and/or medications. Traditional routes for relieving pain and swelling may also be recommended.
A specific course of treatment will depend on the circumstances surrounding your case, as well as your individual needs. That requires learning about how your symptoms are affecting your daily life, when discomfort is worst, and other important questions.
If bunion surgery becomes a consideration, it also requires careful contemplation of many different factors.
You might be surprised to learn that “bunion surgery” is not just one procedure. In fact, there are more than 100 different defined procedures that can be used to address bunion symptoms!
When considering the best procedure for a given patient, we must consider lifestyle, age, medical history, and other elements. The ultimate goal is providing the most relief with the fewest potential downsides.
Different surgical procedures may involve:
- Removing part of the bone, often by shaving or cutting.
- Realigning one or more bones to restore a more normal joint angle.
- Removing swollen or damaged tissue surrounding the joint.
In some cases, the joint may be fused permanently, which can provide significant pain relief at the cost of some limit to joint movement.
It is important to keep in mind that surgery is almost never considered purely for cosmetic purposes. There must be some physical benefit—and it must outweigh the consequences of the procedure itself—to make surgery a consideration.
Get the Help You Need for Your Bunion
No matter how “bad” your bunion looks at the moment, odds are very good that you can significantly improve your situation. Even if you aren’t sure whether or not you even have a bunion, it’s still worth a look. Treating a bunion at its earliest stages can prevent plenty of trouble down the road.
Our two El Paso offices are ready to hear from you. Give us a call or fill out our online contact form to have a member of our staff reach out to you.