One of the most common causes of foot pain is bunions, a painful deformity of the joint located at the base of the great toe. While bunions are often inherited, other causes such as having flat feet, wearing pointy toed or too narrow shoes, and wearing high heels are also common causes, according to Harvard Medical School. It is important that bunions get treated because they can eventually cause damage to the other toes. If your bunion or other type of foot pain interferes with your daily living, talk to your health care provider--someone like Foot & Ankle Care Center PA--about conservative foot care options. Here are 5 alternatives to foot surgery to help minimize your foot pain:
Shoe inserts are designed to help evenly distribute the weight of your foot. This relieves pressure and pain, while helping to prevent further damage to the joint. Shoe inserts can be purchased at most pharmacies, but they are not effective for everyone. If non-prescription shoe inserts fail to reduce your symptoms, talk to your doctor about custom made, prescription shoe orthotics. While store-bought shoe inserts can be effective in relieving your foot pain, unless they fit your shoes properly, they may actually worsen your symptoms.
Anti-inflammatory medications are effective foot pain treatments because they relieve both pain and swelling. If you cannot tolerate the side effects from these medications, such as stomach upset, consider taking acetaminophen. Although effective in treating pain, acetaminophen, does little to relieve other foot pain symptoms such as inflammation, warmth, and redness. If you need stronger pain relief, talk to your doctor about prescription pain medications or cortisone injections, which will dampen inflammation and reduce your discomfort.
Wearing shoes with wide toe boxes provides more room for your toes. The roomier the shoe, the less cramped your toes will be. Avoid high-heeled shoes because the steep incline places pressure on the irritated toe joint and raises the risk for further deformity. Wearing too tight or narrow shoes not only cramps up your toes, it can also impede circulation to your feet which may cause permanent nerve damage. If your doctor suspects that you have nerve damage in your feet, you may be referred to a neurologist for further evaluation and treatment.
Application of Ice
Applying ice to the affected joint is one of the simplest, yet most effective bunion treatments. The ice helps relieve pain, while reducing inflammation and redness. Always use a barrier between the ice and your skin to avoid frostbite or tissue damage.
While the application of heat may temporarily soothe your foot pain, it can actually exacerbate your discomfort. Heat can cause swelling which can lead to significant tissue inflammation that can put pressure on your nerves. If you want to use a heating pad on your feet to help soothe your pain, follow up with an application of ice.
Wearing gel-filled or moleskin pads are cheap and effective bunion treatments. Bunion pads help minimize pressure from your shoes, and can help prevent friction from your bed linens from irritating your foot when you go to sleep. Always replace your bunion pads when they get worn or dirty because they may lose their effectiveness.
If conservative bunion treatments fail to provide you with relief from your symptoms, talk to your health care provider about surgical options. Recovery from a bunionectomy can take up to a couple of months and may involve physical therapy. After your recuperation period, relief from symptoms is usually dramatic and permanent.
If you have chronic pain in your feet, visit a podiatrist to learn about conservative methods of foot care. The sooner your symptoms are evaluated, the sooner your doctor can implement a treatment plan to help keep you pain free.