Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Are orthotics enough to treat a foot bunion?"
I have a bunion and have started using orthotics to ease the pain. Is this enough or do I need to do other things?
Bunions--enlargements of the bone or soft tissue at the base of the first joint of the big toe--can be very painful and disruptive to daily activities. There are a wide range of treatment options for bunions, and determining what will work best for you will require evaluating several variables, including how large your bunion is, how long it has been present, what kind of activities you do on a daily basis and would like to continue doing, what kind of shoes you wear (i.e. are you someone who wants to go back to wearing high heels?), how old you are, and what kind of other health issues you have. Since bunions can be treated surgically, the best kind of physician to see for an initial evaluation is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in foot and ankle surgery. However, although surgery is one option for treating bunions, there are also several non-surgical options that can be helpful. Orthotics such as those you mention can help with the pain. There are a wide variety of orthotics and bunion-specific inserts, gel pads, and other mechanical devices that attempt to support the foot and take the pressure off of the bunion. Podiatrists can often be very helpful in determining which of these options might work best for you. If these don't work, then surgery is always an option, although this typically requires a rather extensive 6-8 week recovery period. Your orthopedic surgeon can discuss the risks and benefits of various surgical options with you.
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