Orthopedist Questions Orthotics

Are orthotics enough for foot bunions?

I have a bunion and I started using orthotics (specifically a gel pad) to ease the pain. Should I be doing more than this?

17 Answers

Usual not. Xray is the first step to tell the full story. And get options to what’s is next step. Please consult nearest podiatrist ASAP.
It's best to be evaluated by a specialist
Bunions are genetic and happen to certain feet. Just using a gel pad will relieve the pain, a wider toe box on a tennis shoe will also help. The only way to make a bunion go away is surgery to fix the bunion. The surgery is very safe.
You would benefit from custom foot orthotics more
No. Genetics plays a role.
A gel pad is not an orthotic. It allows more motion causing bunion to increase.
Here is some at home treatments to attempt for bunions. The only way to her heal a bunion is through surgical realignment but not everyone needs that. As long as you can walk and wear shoes comfortably then I would not recommend surgery.

A custom foot orthotic (shoe insert) is a effective tool to minimize the pressure from the bunion. You might want to change your footwear, especially if you have shoes that squeeze your toes together. Wearing shoes with a wide toe box reduces friction on the bunion.

There are special pads made to cushion bunions. Avoid pads that have acid or medication in them.

Anti-inflammatory medication such as Motrin or Naproxen can decrease pain and inflammation
For painful bunions you actually want to wear shoes that are wide in the forefoot meaning that there should have plenty of room where your toes are to avoid squeezing or putting pressure on your bunion. Also avoid heels.
I also recommend bunion splints to be worn at night to slow down the progression of the deformity.
They are enough if the symptoms are reduced.
The basic initial treatment for any bunion is essentially conservative, with proper shoe wear modification being the initial recommendation. If the gel pads give you relief, this is all you need, but it will not correct the deformity. Most surgeons agree that the surgery should not be done for cosmetic reasons, but to relieve pain and dysfunction, so hopefully this does the trick.

Ron Noy, MD
You can wear shoes with a wider “toe box”— the part of the shoe from the ball of the foot to the end of the toes— to relieve pressure and allow the toes to straighten out. You can wear a toe spacer between the first and second toes to hold the big toe straight. If those techniques don’t work, see an orthopedic surgeon specializing in foot and ankle.
The best way to control bunions from progressing is with use of custom orthotics. They are generally a rigid type of device, and not gel in nature.
It depends on what you are referring to as a 'bunion.' Many of my patients call corns and calluses bunions-but that is not what a bunion is. A bunion is a deformity of the foot where the angle between the 1st and 2nd metatarsals increases, and the big to deviates laterally to the articulation of the 1st metatarso-phalangeal joint. Orthotics may slow the progression or prevent worsening of a bunion, but once a bunion is there, the only way to correct it is to have surgery. Look up Bunions. Look up Hallux Valgus (the medical term for bunion).
Bunions develop due to a muscle imbalance in the foot. A gel pad will not provide much improvement if it is on the foot. A pad over the prominence may provide some relief, but the muscle imbalance needs to be addressed to slow the progression. I recommend you be evaluated by a foot and ankle surgeon (podiatrist) to discuss further options
If you're still having discomfort, you may benefit from a custom molded orthotic to directly address your structural issues. See your podiatrist for a proper evaluation
I would recommend a more custom insert to maybe stop the progression of the bunion. A bunion may get worse over time or may not.