Today, I'm going to talk to you about how to avoid bunion surgery, and the reason I want to talk about this is we see many patients in our practice who have had bunion surgery and probably did not need it in order to get relief of their pain.
We also have a lot of patients coming in who have bunions and are having pain, think they need surgery, and we find in most cases, they do not need surgery. Now, that's not to say that everybody that has a bunion will be able to be treated conservatively, surgery is sometimes necessary, but we do believe that it is done too often, and in most cases, we can eliminate pain without doing surgery.
So, the first thing we're going to look at is what a bunion is, and essentially, it is an enlargement of this joint right here. This metatarsal bone starts to move off to the side and the toe comes in, and this angulation here forms the bunion.
Pain from a bunion can come from two places. It can come from the bump here hitting the side of the shoe, or it can come from these two bones jamming into each other when you're walking.
That compression in that joint not only causes the bunion, but it causes pain in that joint.
So when we look at treating this problem, the first thing we want to do is to free up the motion in this joint so that when you walk, you have free motion in the joint. We don't want these two bones jamming together.
To do that, we're going to use an orthotic device in the shoe that conforms very, very close to the arch of the foot. That allows that bone to come down. You can find more information on this on the website, including references on articles about this problem.
But, that's the main thing. This is a small orthotic that is meant for heels and dress shoes for women. This is a larger orthotic meant for athletic type of shoes.
Also, for women wearing dress shoes, we can have them use a shoe that has a platform on it. A platform rocks you to the steps, so you're not having to bend that toe so much.
So, that's all things you can do to stop the compression in the joint. To get rid of the pressure against the side here, you can have the shoe stretched to wear slightly wider shoes, and what we often will do is refer you to a shoe repair shop that knows how to do a good job at modifying those shoes.
You can also find that list on this website. Just do a search for "shoe repair shops".
Finally, again, the key thing is, don't have bunion surgery unless you've tried all conservative treatment. In fact, what we tell patients is surgery should be your very last resort.
Only if you've tried all the conservative treatments and you're still having pain that, for example, stops you from exercising, should you consider surgery.
Another time you might consider surgery is if you just cannot find shoes that work for you, whether they be dress shoes or athletic shoes. Then, you might want to consider surgery, but again, it should be your very last resort.
If you're in our area and you're considering bunion surgery, come see us for a second opinion first. Most cases, we can help you avoid that surgery, but if you do need it, we can certainly take care of that too. If you're not in our area, find a podiatrist that specializes in foot biomechanics and orthotic therapy.
Orthotics for feet are medically prescribed instruments that are personally made to suit your particular foot problem. Many stores and pharmacies sell over the counter orthotics which could aggravate your condition. If your foot problem is severe, you must consult your local podiatrist/chiropodist in your area for the correct orthotic.
The websites below provide helpful information in regards to foot, heel and ankle ailments.