Treating bunions involves different therapies and various medical managements. In order for physicians to decide on the type of treatments that should be used, careful planning and thorough assessment must be carried out accordingly. If a bunion is uncomplicated, wearing a specialized type of shoe or a bunion splint that matches the shape of the foot or that is patterned to the foot to prevent stress and trauma on the obtruded portions may be the only solution to correct the condition. If inflammation and swelling is experienced, corticosteroid injections are given. However, if the bunion is more of the severe type, surgical removal to realign the toe may be required to improve functionality and appearance.
Corticosteroid injections are vital to cure bunions and are one of the few pharmacological options to treat the condition. It is derived from the term cortisone, a steroid hormone. It is one of the major hormones produced by the adrenal gland as a reaction to stress. Chemically, it is a corticosteroid that is directly related to corticosterone. It is used to treat a variety of ailments and is normally given orally, although it can be administered intravenously, intra articulary (into a joint), or transcutaneously. Its major function is to suppress the immune system which results in the reduction of inflammation, pain and swelling at the injured site.
Although this is effective for pain relief, it only has a short-term effect which only lasts for about 6 to 8 hours. Cortisone may also be used to suppress the immune system in individuals having autoimmune diseases such as Lupus, Celiac Disease, Cancer, HIV and others. In addition, they are used as a common cure for a severe type of sore throat which is associated with the infectious mononucleosis or colloquially coined as the kissing disease. Furthermore, it is used to treat keloids or kelodial scars.
Even though corticosteroid plays an important role in treating bunions and other ailments, it unfortunately has a number of potential systemic side effects if taken for a prolonged period of time. Side effects such as hyperglycemia, diabetes mellitus, osteoporosis, depression, anxiety cataracts and glaucoma are quite common. Other local side effects that are unusual can also occur such as pain, infection, changes in skin pigmentation, anorexia, and generalized body malaise.
Common pain relievers such as Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen are over-the-counter medications that may help control the pain from a bunion. Paracetamol and mild analgesics may be prescribed as well. Paracetamol may not be the number one drug of choice in treating a bunion, but it has been widely used for a vast number of people because of its availability and low cost. According to a study conducted by the American Journal of Epidemiology, paracetamol, although known for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, indicates that it may affect the flow of blood to the ear or reduce levels of factors that protect hearing.
The study involved 62,261 women, aged between 31 and 48 years; it was found that those who used paracetamol and ibuprofen a couple of times a week were more likely to develop a hearing loss problem than those who did not use the drugs. It also revealed that, those who took the drugs two or three times per week had an increased risk of hearing loss. In fact, this was increased drastically for those who took it four to five times a week. It is quite an alarming find according to Dr. Sharon Curhan from the Women’s Hospital in the US, who took part in the study. Therefore, individuals who find the need to take these painkillers must consult their physicians first to better understand its benefits and potential risks.
Surgery, is without doubt the best bunion treatment for the more severe types, is not recommended unless the bunions cause frequent pain and immobility. A Bunionectomy is the name of the surgical procedure and it involves removal of the swollen tissue around the big toe, straightening and aligning the big toe by removing a part of the bone, and permanently attaching the bones of the affected joint.
Post-operatively, the patient may have intense throbbing pains at the operative site, requiring liberal doses of analgesic medication. The foot is elevated to the level of the heart to decrease swelling and pain. The duration of immobility and initiation of ambulation depends on the procedure used. Toe flexion and extension exercises are initiated to aid with walking. Shoes that fit the shape and size of the foot are also strongly recommended.
Home remedies and lifestyle changes are also important to prevent bunion formation. Some tips that are useful for this purpose are as follows: application of a non-medicated bunion pad to soothe the bony part of the foot, wearing shoes that are roomy enough and have wide toe boxes, avoidance of wearing dress shoes that have heels higher than 2 ½ inches, and applying ice packs to reduce the swelling if the bunion becomes swollen and sore.
Massaging the foot with Eucalyptus oil or a natural oil can also reduce the pain in the area and may reverse the formation of the deformity. Eucalyptus oil is an essential oil that is prepared pharmaceutically to relieve colds, cough, and flu. It is also known to have antibacterial properties that are good for pathogenic bacteria thriving in the respiratory tract. It stimulates the immune system and is an anti-inflammatory and analgesic agent. Application of the oil twice or three times a day on the affected area is recommended.