Bunion Relief Without Surgery

If you have bunions like millions of others, you may be able to get relief without surgery, Dr. Bruce Hensel reported.

"Most people think of bunions as bumps above the big toe; but that's the result. The cause is a genetic weakness in the joint which causes irritation, leading to the bump,"  Hensel said.

A few clues made Elaine Davin wonder if she was developing a bunion.

"I noticed that my shoes were getting a little tight and it seemed like the bone was a protruding little bit on the side," Davin said. 

Elaine, just like her mom, had a bunion. It's a common foot deformity that affects millions.

"Bunions are quite common. They're actually a leaning of the great toe over towards the second toe," said Dr. Judy Baumhauer, Orthopedic surgeon.

Though genetics plays a role, shoes may play an even bigger one. 

"The shoes that are pointy, high heeled shoes can sort of mold your toes into that position where they lean over towards the second toe," Baumhauer said.

The bony bump can be accommodated with common sense solutions, like using an arch support, and buying the right shoes or taping the toe.

"That doesn't mean you have to wear those big grandma shoes or anything, or the orthopedic shoes. You just need shoes that are not narrow and pointy," Baumhauer said. 

Living with a bunion is this doctor's first choice, because may cause more problems than it solves .

"So don't fall for the, 'if i get it fixed now it won't be such a problem later.' because if you get it fixed now, you could have an infection, you could have a recurrence of your bunion. You can have a nerve injury," Baumhauer said. 

But when does surgery make sense?

"I can't fit in the shoes, I can't do the things i want to do and I've tried all the non-operative treatments, that's when it's appropriate to have some surgery," Baumhauer said. 

"Even when that happens, if you have a doctor show you how to tape your toes, and use ice and anti-inflammatories; the discomfort may go away.  When all else fails surgery can cure the problem. It does take a month or two to fully recover in the hands of the right doctor, side effects are rare," Dr. Hensel said.

AUDIENCE INQUIRY: For general information:
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, http://orthoinfo.aaos.org
American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, http://www.footphysicians.com

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