Bunion Surgery Alternatives: Top 5 Things to Keep Your Foot from Becoming a Pronating Mess

by Chris Centeno, MD /

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Bunion Surgery Alternatives

Looking for Bunion surgery alternatives? You should be after seeing how badly Bunion surgery can impact your foot and knee in my recent post! This is part 2 of that post with ideas to help you stay away from the surgeon’s knife:

1. Figure out the Cause-All too often, we get into a quick fix surgery mentality, but in this case the surgery isn’t a fix, but instead breaks the normal bio mechanics of the foot and lower leg. All too often the cause of the bunion is irritated nerves in the low back causing weak leg muscles. You say your back doesn’t hurt? It doesn’t need to hurt. The nerves just have to be irritated enough to impact the muscles as they control your foot and prevent it from pronating.

2. Support the Foot-For a cheap way to support the foot, hit a Dr. Scholl’s orthotic kiosk at your local Walmart. While you’re not going to get high quality custom orthotics, you can at least try out a pair that should support the foot in many of the right places. If these work, you’re done and you saved yourself hundreds of dollars. If not, then you can always go to your local orthotics expert for a pair of true custom made inserts.

3. Help the Joint-A bunion is a bone spur formed off the first meta-tarsal toe joint. You don’t get them when you’re young because the joint has enough native stem cells to support the cartilage. When you’re older, the repair capabilities of the joint go down and it begins to break down with the added pressure caused by pronation. You need to turn back the clock in that joint! Consider biologic injections in the joint like platelet rich plasma or stem cells (only under imaging guidance). This will hopefully help preserve the joint and keep it from collapsing.

4. Straighten the Joint-As the bunion forms, the toe comes inward. There are any number of night-time bracing solutions you can find on-line to help straighten that toe. For $6 on Amazon, you can pick up a nifty splint that will place gentle forces on your joint while you sleep. Go slow with this little gadget; trying very light pressure back toward straight and allowing yourself to get used to any new angle you try. The biggest mistake here is going too fast and trying to correct the collapsed joint overnight.

5. Strengthen the Leg Muscles-Remember, one of the reasons causing the pronation is that the leg muscles can’t support your foot as you walk or run. Working on specific foot and ankle exercises to strengthen those specific muscles is a good idea. This quick video will get you started!

The upshot? You can avoid bunion surgery if you put your mind to it!

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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