What Non-Surgical Options Do I Have for Treating My Bunions?

What Non-Surgical Options Do I Have for Treating My Bunions?

Bunions are a common foot deformity that cause a bony protrusion to form on the outside of your big toe. This protrusion isn’t only a cosmetic issue, it also leads to pain and difficulty walking in severe cases. You may think surgery is the only way to get rid of your discomfort, but there are actually many conservative treatments that can help.

At Sports Medicine Associates of San Antonio, our team offers a wide variety of treatment options when bunions are affecting your life. Dr. Marque A. Allen is our experienced podiatrist. Dr. Allen also specializes in foot and ankle surgery, but is happy to provide non-surgical measures when your bunions are bothering you.

What are bunions?

A bunion is a deformity of your foot that happens when a bony lump slowly forms on the outside of your big toe. It often happens in conjunction with a hallux valgus, where your big toe starts to drift toward your other toes.

Bunions develop slowly over time, as the joint moves outward toward the outside of your big toe. The bones, tendons, and ligaments all change position, which causes the bump of the bunion. 

Bunions are usually genetic, meaning if your mom or dad had them, you’re likely to get them. This can be due to abnormal foot structure, or the mechanics of how you walk. Inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis also put you at a higher risk for developing bunions.

High heels and tight shoes may make bunions worse, but they don’t actually cause the bunion. Your foot structure is the single biggest factor in developing bunions. While bunions aren’t always preventable, there are ways to manage your pain and keep them from getting worse.

Non-surgical treatment for bunions

Bunions lead to pain and trouble walking if left untreated. Early conservative treatment with non-surgical measures help to decrease pain and keep the bunion from getting any worse. Some common conservative measures Dr. Allen uses include:

Shoe changes

Improperly fitted shoes cause pain by pressing on your toe joint. Changing to shoewear that has a wide toe box and allows for the space your feet need is vital to preventing further problems with your bunion.

Custom orthotics

Orthotics provide customized support to your feet to prevent your bunion from progressing. You can get shoe inserts in a store, but custom orthotics are specifically fitted to your feet. This provides comfort and support to your foot and bunion.


Anti-inflammatory medications and steroid medications help to decrease inflammation due to the changes in your foot. These medications relieve pain associated with your bunion until other conservative measures kick in.


Pads that are made of silicone or other soft materials are used to prevent the bunion from rubbing on your shoes. These pads can be found at a variety of drugstores. You should test them out for a short time first, to make sure they’re not adding to the pressure on your bunion.


Splints can be worn on your toe at night to keep the joint in a straight position. While this doesn’t cure your bunion, it can help reduce your discomfort.

When is surgery needed?

Many bunions don’t require surgery, as your pain can be successfully managed with conservative measures and lifestyle changes. The goal of conservative treatment is to manage any discomfort and keep the bunion from getting worse.

In some cases, though, your bunion can’t be managed conservatively. If your bunion is extremely painful and hasn’t responded to conservative treatment, surgery may be necessary. 

Bunions that cause problems with walking or wearing any kind of footwear also respond well to surgical procedure. The goal of surgery is to relieve your pain by realigning the bones in your big toe joint.

There are different types of bunion surgery that Dr. Allen performs, based on the severity of your bunion. These procedures are typically outpatient procedures, meaning you can go home the same day.

If you’re dealing with bunion pain, don’t hesitate to call our office in San Antonio, Texas today at 210-988-6520. You can also schedule an appointment online using our convenient booking tool.

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