Your doctor will diagnose your bunions with a physical examination. He or she may also perform an X-ray to help determine the cause of the bunion and how severe it is. There are a variety of treatment options available for bunions. The right treatment option for you is determined by how severe the bunion is and how much pain it causes you. The most common options are non-surgical. These are conservative treatment methods that your doctor will probably want you to try before moving to something more aggressive.
The first recommendation from your doctor will probably be to wear custom corrective orthotics. Your doctor may also recommend splinting, taping, or padding the foot. Padded bunion pads relieve pressure, and taping the toes into a healthy position can ease the pain.
Your doctor may also recommend over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. He or she may also recommend cortisone shots to the area, which can help ease inflammation. Icing the bunion is another effective way to relieve pain. It is particularly beneficial when you have been on your feet for a long time or it is particularly inflamed.
If non-surgical options do not relieve the bunion pain, you may need more aggressive treatment. There are a variety of surgical options for treating bunions. Your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the swollen tissue from around the joint of your big toe. Surgery can also straighten the big toe by removing part of the bone. The big toe can also be surgically realigned. Your doctor will make the decision that makes the most sense based on the severity and cause of the bunion.
Nearly all bunion surgery is done on an outpatient basis. You will need to have someone available to drive you home following the procedure. While you will probably be able to walk immediately after the procedure, full recovery can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.