Bunion Treatment

Okay, so what’s a bunion?

A bunion, aka hallux valgus, is the end result of a flat and floppy foot unable to properly handle gravity.

Gravity is an overwhelming force upon the 26 bones and 33 joints of each foot.

The visual deformity is so commonly seen, some think it’s normal.

A bunion is not normal and varies in severity from mild to the more severe that’s rather unsightly.

How did I get it?

Unfortunately, as the forefoot spreads from body weight and gravity forcing it down, the big toe is forced to adapt to this pressure and turns out towards the second toe in varying degrees.

Over time, after millions of steps, the big toe gradually becomes “set” in this deformed position in which case surgery may be the only option.

It’s that simple!

It’s not inherited.

We all live in gravity.

This has nothing to do with our genetic makeup.

 

How is it treated?

There are three options in the treatment of bunion:
1. Temporarily reduce the visual deformity
2. Cut it off
3. Correct the cause

 

Treatments Designed to Temporarily Reduce the Deformity Angle and Pain

 

YogaPro YogaToes
According to GAIAM this particular treatment for bunion, "Realigns the bones in your toes and improves flexibility in your tendons.”

Drawbacks:
You cannot walk with YogaPro YogaToes in place.

Looks more suitable as a pedicure preparation to help hold the toes apart as the polish dries.

Cost: $40

 

Bunion Aid® Treatment Splint

This treatment for bunion is a cushioned splint with a hinge designed to stabilize the arch while pulling the big toe back into place.

Drawbacks:
Bulky and cannot be worn with shoes

Cost: $60

 

Bunion Bootie

This treatment for bunion is a soft, flexible splint that separates the big toe from the others. This product can be worn inside a shoe and help to reduce the friction at the bunion.

Drawbacks:
Although this product has the potential to help reduce friction at the 1st met head, it does not have the potential to address the cause of a bunion. So, you must decide… “Do I want to feel better only allowing the progressive nature of this foot problem to worsen or do I want to correct the cause?!”

If you’re interested in feeling better as your bunion continues to worsen, choose the bunion bootie.

Cost: $34

 

Warm Compresses & Castor Oil

These heat treatments for bunion can help reduce pain and increase blood circulation.

Drawbacks:
The heat may increase inflammation as more blood is drawn to the area of application.

Application time ranges from 10 to 30 minutes.

Potential for burns.

 

Anti-Inflammatory Agents

These include ice and oral anti-inflammatory medications like Naproxen (Aleve), Topric, Traumeel, Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), acetaminophen (Tylenol), Aspirin (Bufferin, Excedrin and Bayer).

Drawbacks:
Ice is obviously cold, can be rather uncomfortable and takes up to 15 minutes per application.

Medication has side-effects and is toxic to the liver.

 

Epsom Salt

This particular treatment for bunion is actually the combination of 2 minerals - magnesium and sulfate. Magnesium helps regulate enzyme activity whereas sulfates help flush toxins. In other words, Epsom salt can help reduce pain and inflammation and even help soften the skin.

Drawbacks:
Time consuming: Epsom salt requires a soak lasting at least 30 minutes daily.

 

Massage

Massage treatment for bunion is designed to help reduce tissue congestion and facilitate healing with any of the various massage techniques.

Drawbacks:
Cost: $50 to $250 per hour depending on experience and location of practitioner.

 

Lemon Essential Oil

This particular treatment for bunion is cold pressed from the rinds of lemons. It literally takes thousands of lemons to make just one kilo of oil.

Drawbacks:
You smell like lemons

Cost: Anywhere from $5 to $15 for 15ml

 

Tying your shoes differently
Instead of crossing the laces at the foot box, leave this area open; now, the front of the shoe can spread open further to accommodate the bunion.

Drawbacks:
Looks silly

 

Exercise

Stretching and strengthening exercises designed to treat bunion are as follows:

• Bunion release stretch. After basically tying your big toes together with a thick elastic band, pull your toes away apart and hold for a true static stretch of 15 seconds. Repeat 10 times per day.

• Ball roll massage. Place a small hard ball, such as a golf ball, under your foot and stand on it as you roll it around applying pressure to the areas of pain. Perform as desired.

• Marble pick-ups. Pick marbles up from the floor with your foot.

• Walk in sand. By far, our most favorite exercise of all time. This unstable surface forces all the intrinsic muscles of balance and coordination to activate and work during each step.

Drawbacks:
Need to be performed forever and seems like a daunting daily task.

Exercises do not influence the stronger ligaments support designed to hold all 26 bones in place. How can anybody possibly focus all their attention toward controlling all the muscles required to hold up each arch during the average 10,000 to 15,000 steps a person takes per day!? Shhhhh…Seems impossible.

 

Injections

Injections as a treatment for bunion are designed to reduce pain and inflammation. This treatment for bunion involves injecting a steroid directly into the heel and site of inflammation. Corticosteroid injections tend to provide more pain relief than oral anti-inflammatory medications.

Drawbacks:
Can be costly @ $100 - $300 per shot, in addition to the standard cost of an office visit.

Side effects include weak tendons, thin skin, easy bruising, bone loss, avascular necrosis, cataracts, indigestion, muscle weakness, back pain, bruising, and thrush.

Bunion due to an insufficient number of painful injections? Interesting concept, but ridiculous.

 

Surgery

This aggressive treatment for bunion is reserved as a last resort! Cutting off the visual deformity can certainly make things look better.

Drawbacks:
Long and painful recovery.

Can cost more than $10,000.

Foot function may never return to normal.

Bunions caused by a lack of surgery? Interesting concept, but ridiculous. Surgery is designed to eliminate the unsightly deformity, not improve foot function.

 

NOTE: ALL THE aforementioned treatments have ONE thing in common – they all fail to correct the cause of bunion.

In order to correct the cause of bunion, it’s essential to ‘tip the scales’ in favor of good foot function. This requires the optimal passage of force as each foot transitions between pronation and supination.

Temporary relief? Possibly. Long term correction? NEVER!

 

How to Correct the Cause of Bunion

Custom Calibrated, made-from-scratch, Foot Orthotics:

Considering a bunion is the end result of long standing overpronation, believe it or not, even the surgical and most invasive option of them all is only TEMPORARY.

Unless you improve and optimize how the 26 bones and 33 joints of each foot handle gravity, the compensatory valgus stress at the big toe remains present.

It’s only a matter of time until the visual deformity is again present when the underlying foot dysfunction remains present.

Correcting the cause of bunion is the best choice for those looking to reduce the visual deformity, but for a long term solution to a progressive disabling foot problem.

P.S. Even if surgery has become your only hope, a custom calibrated foot orthotic is essential for healing post operatively.

Remember, surgery does not address the cause of your foot problem…it simply made things look better.

Call Dr. Dave at Arizona Orthotics today, 480-307-4060 and let's get you feeling good again!

Dr. David Doperak