Caring for Your Bunions at Home
No matter what changes may come about your life—whether they come from personal events or the wide-sweeping effects of something like the COVID-19 pandemic—you can (unfortunately) rest assured that your bunion will stick it out with you.
The only thing that can ever truly eliminate a bunion is surgery.
That said, we don’t always recommend bunion surgery if the symptoms a bunion causes can be effectively managed via more conservative methods. Some methods to help reduce bunion pain and discomfort can even be attempted right at home.
Of course, if a bunion is interfering with your enjoyment of life and ability to do things without pain, you should absolutely contact us about it.
We are still open and seeing patients during this time, and taking CDC-recommended precautions to provide as safe and low-risk an environment for all our patients as we can. Significant pain absolutely qualifies as an urgent need that requires prompt attention from an expert. And if you remain uncertain as to whether or not you should come in at this time, do not hesitate to call us and ask!
In the meantime, here are some ways you may be able to help prevent flare-ups of bunion pain, or lessen pain you are currently experiencing.
Go Foot Up
As with many other causes of pain and inflammation (think an ankle sprain, for example), keeping the affected area elevated can help ease symptoms.
Ideally, you should have your foot above the level of your heart for at least 15 minutes every other hour. This could mean leaning back in a recliner, or resting in bed with your foot propped on some pillows. Either of these is a good time to catch up on some video streaming!
Go Ice Down
Cold therapy can also be effective for bunion pain and inflammation. Some limited exposure several times per day can work well, but practice responsible icing:
- Use a cold compress or a bag of frozen vegetables. Whatever you use, wrap it in a clean, thin cloth or tea towel to prevent the source of cold from directly contacting your skin. This can cause damage.
- Apply for about 15 minutes at a time, and then remove for at least a couple of hours. If you start to feel pain, take the ice away immediately.
Support Your Feet
One common side effect of spending much more time at home is that you are also spending a lot less time in shoes.
If your shoes were made for—or contain custom orthotics for—providing corrective support for conditions such as flat feet, spending more time out of them can equal extra force being applied to your bunion area as you stand and move.
If you have noticed more bunion pain in your days at home, consider wearing your shoes indoors for part of the day. This can be an especially helpful move if your home has hardwood floors, since that can place a lot more direct force on your feet.
(And, naturally, remember to clean your shoes before wearing them around the house. You don’t want to be cleaning up after yourself more than you need to.)
Exercise Your Feet
Stretches and simple exercises can help condition the muscles and other supporting elements around the joint of your big toe, which can decrease pain, reduce stiffness, and help improve stability.
Here are a few routines to try (remember to cease any exercise if you feel pain!):
- Heel Raises. Stand barefoot, with knees slightly bent and heels turned inward. Raise the arch of your foot as high as you can (within your range of motion). Then, elevate the heel while exerting gentle pressure on your affected toe. Hold for 5 seconds, relax, and repeat several times.
- Toe Spreads. Stand barefoot, keeping your heels and the fronts of your feet firmly planted on the floor. Raise your toes of one foot and spread them out. Lower your little toe back to the floor, keeping the rest of your toes raised, then move your big toe down and toward the inside of the foot. Hold for about 5 seconds, bring your foot to a resting position, and repeat several times.
- Toe circles. While sitting in a chair, lean in and grasp your big toe. Slowly circle the toe clockwise for 20 revolutions. Rest a moment, then circle back in the opposite direction another 20 times. Repeat two or three times.
While these exercises may provide some help for your affected toe, it is well worth completing them with your other foot as well. Conditioning and strengthening both feet can only be to your benefit.
Find the Bunion Help You Need
At Canyon Foot & Ankle, we are more than happy to provide consultations, advice, and treatment for patients suffering from chronic bunion pain and discomfort. It doesn’t matter how long you have had your unwelcome companion; conservative treatments can still frequently help patients who have had a bunion for decades!
That said, the sooner you catch and begin to address a bunion, the more efficient and effective treatment tends to be. Do not hesitate to reach out to us if you think you may have a bunion; don’t wait until it “looks bad enough.”
Call either of our two offices to discuss what you can do for your bunion pain, and to find answers to any questions you may have about how we are keeping our patients safe during in-office appointments.
- Twin Falls – (208) 733-0436
- Burley – (208) 678-2727
You can also contact us to schedule a telemedicine appointment, in which we can evaluate your bunion and provide advice over videoconferencing, meaning you can meet with Dr. Pilling without leaving the safety of home.