Mayo Clinic: Is it best to have bunions surgically treated
before they begin hurting, or do some never cause pain? In the
past few months, I've noticed throbbing from the bunion on my
left foot, and Iím considering surgery. I have one on my
right foot, too, but it doesnít hurt. Will I eventually need
the procedure done to both sides?
all bunions require surgery, and more conservative means of
treatment typically are recommended first, before any surgical
intervention is used.
is a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big
toe. It develops due to a shifting or repositioning of some of
the bones in the front part of the foot (forefoot). When this
happens, the big toe gets pulled toward the smaller toes and
the forefoot widens. Thatís when you start to notice the
bunions donít cause any symptoms other than a bulging bump,
while others trigger swelling, redness and soreness around the
joint. Persistent or intermittent pain may accompany a bunion,
and the skin over a bunion may become red and sore.
bunion doesnít cause pain or other symptoms, it may not
require treatment. If, as in your case, a bunion does become
painful ó or if it causes other bothersome symptoms ó thatís
the time to make an appointment to have it evaluated. Doctors
who specialize in foot and ankle surgery typically are the
health care providers best suited to assess a bunion and help
you decide on the appropriate treatment.
the first steps your doctor may take is to determine the
underlying cause of the pain associated with your bunion. In
some cases, it may be an internal problem, such as
degenerative or inflammatory arthritis. In others, the pain
could be from an external source, such as pressure from tight
or ill-fitting shoes. Treatment recommendations may be based
in part on whatís causing the pain.
treatment options, which usually are the first line of
treatment for bunions, often include changing the type of
shoes you wear. Roomy, comfortable shoes with plenty of space
for your toes will take pressure off a bunion and may help
ease pain. Adding padded inserts to your shoes distributes
pressure more evenly when you move your foot, and that can
help reduce pain, too.
can try bunion pads to take pressure off the bunion. They are
available without a prescription at most pharmacies and drug
stores. Nonprescription pain relievers such as acetaminophen,
ibuprofen or naproxen sodium may be useful, as well. In some
cases, your doctor might recommend a cortisone shot to help
reduce inflammation in the joint that could be triggering
or inability to do your usual activities continues despite
these more conservative measures, surgery may be necessary.
The purpose of bunion surgery is to correct the foot
deformity, increase function and reduce pain. The specific
procedure used will depend on your situation.
should have a discussion with a foot and ankle surgeon to talk
about surgery options. He or she can outline the planned
procedure and review the expected outcome and healing
timeline, along with the potential benefits, risks and
complications of the surgery.
may occur just on one foot or on both feet, and the severity,
symptoms and progression can vary greatly from one foot to the
other. Therefore, let your symptoms, as well as a discussion
with your doctor, guide you when considering bunion surgery.