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Bunion Surgery: Is a Bunionectomy the Only Option for Dealing with Bunions?

Bunion Surgery: Is a Bunionectomy the Only Option for Dealing with Bunions?

I was “thisclose” to needing bunion surgery, also known as a bunionectom, because I made one simple mistake. And the reason why I have put this website together is so you do not do the same boneheaded thing that I did.

Buried My Head, er…ahem…Toe in the Sand

The header above offers a clue to the advice I am going to provide to you on the pages of this website. Like many of you reading this page, I ignorantly assumed that everyone suffering from bunions would eventually need a bunionectomy. It was my understanding that bunion surgery was an inevitable reality. It wasn’t a matter of if, but when.

I had heard about bunion splints and other options to relieve the pain of bunions, but was skeptical and felt that they were just temporary measures that would not be of any lasting help.

Instead, I simply thought I would manage the pain the best that I could and fight like hell to delay surgery as long as possible. Of course, managing the pain means you are essentially restricting yourself from leading the lifestyle you want to live because you are trying to find that balance between enduring the pain and enjoying the activities.

So, I buried my head in the sand and put off seeing a doctor. Besides, like a lot of people, I didn’t have health insurance and was afraid that cost of bunion surgery would be several thousands of dollars.

Simply put, I was completely uneducated and ignorant about bunions, bunion surgeries and whether or not there were any non-surgical alternatives to bunion surgery or home treatment options.

Finally, I wised up and started educating myself about the foot bunion and foot health by reading online resources and visiting my local library.

Facts and Myths about Bunions and Bunion Surgery

I learned that not only did I not really know that much about bunions, what causes them or how to remove them surgically and non-surgically.

Myth #1: Surgery is the only effective way to permanently deal with bunions and bunion pain.

FALSE: Most people can avoid a bunionectomy by utilizing home treatment options and techniques if they proactively address their foot bunions.

Myth #2: Bunion surgery is very painful with a long post-operative recovery period.

FALSE: Advances in technology offer doctors more surgical options with pain and recovery periods significantly lessened and shortened.

Myth #3: Bunions are caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes.

FALSE: This is incorrect. Though they can and will make bunions more painful, they will increase the speed at which the bunion develops and becomes an even more painful problem.

Myth #4: Bunions are also called Hallux Limitus and Hallux Rigidus.

FALSE: Hallux Limitus and Hallux Rigidus are conditions affecting the range of motion in the big toe that are usually caused by the presence of a bunion, but they are not bunions in and of themselves.

These myths will be examined and vetted in greater detail throughout the pages of this website.

Exploring Home Treatment & Non-surgical Options for Painful Foot Bunions

Armed with this knowledge I became empowered and confident enough to tackle this health issue and no longer spent my uncomfortable days in denial. Instead of being afraid, I felt a sense of control over my own situation for the very first time.

Here were the steps I took to fix my bunion problem:

  • If I had insurance, I probably would have gone to see a podiatrist to get a consultation.
  • Sought out shoes specially designed for people suffering from bunions to help relieve the pain and allow me to regain some of my lifestyle back.
  • Purchased a bunion splint, actually a couple of bunion splints
  • Though it has taken some time to see a significant difference, there has been considerable improvement and I have staved off surgery. It is amazing how much energy you have and your outlook changes when the mere act of walking is no longer a laborious chore or painful experience.

Bunion Surgery and Information for the Average Person

This website will sort of act as a repository of information I learned while doing my own research and I am confident that it will help you when attempting to figure out if bunion surgery is right for you.

I am not a doctor nor do I pretend to suggest that I know whether or not you specifically should get a bunionectomy. But, I do know that trying to figure some of this stuff out and getting clear, concise answers can be a pain in the butt.

So, I am offering my insights and experiences so that you can learn from me and decide what is the best path for your.

The information about bunions and other related issues will be communicated in fairly easy to read and understand language. I will do my best to “Speak English” and not overwhelm you with medical jargon and fancy words, though sometimes a Hallux limitus or a Hallux rigidus may pop up from time to time. By the way, think of limitus as in “limiting” the range of motion in your toe and “rigidus” as having a rigid, inflexible toe.

You can expect common questions and concerns about bunions and bunion surgery to be addressed. This includes conversations about surgical costs, aftercare and recovery, post-op rehabilitation issues and risks of the surgery itself.

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you find the information here useful and informative.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send an email or make a comment on the blog.

 

Bunion Splints: Read Our Reviews of the Leading Products and Avoid Surgery

If you are suffering from bunions and are reading about bunion splints for the first time, I want you to get excited.

“Why?” you ask.

Because, I know that you have been enduring miserable bouts of pain and irritability. And I know that you are pretty frustrated with the ongoing nature of your condition.

“And, soooo?”

Well, a bunion splint might very well change your life…literally.

Bunion Splints Can Prevent the Need for Bunion Surgery

If you are like many other bunion sufferers, you might frustratingly think that the only option for true, lasting pain relief is to undergo bunion removal surgery.

This is an incorrect assumption.

Tens of thousands of people are avoiding bunionectomies by using bunion splints that are sold over the counter or online. And you might be one of the lucky ones who can benefit, too.

Bunions are caused by Biomechanical Flaws

Before we get into a lengthy examination of bunion splints I want to quickly revisit the actual mechanics of a bunion so that you will better understand how the splints work.

Each time you take a step your foot lands heel first and then pushes off with your toes and the ball of your foot. When the heel makes contact with the ground, your arch will flatten out. This motion places tension on the tendon in the mid-foot and allows the big toe to bend upward (even though it obviously is lying flat against the ground) so that you can be propelled forward in your walking motion.

Bunions result when there are flaws in this biomechanical motion. For a variety of different reasons, the big toe will cease to move up and down and instead forces will compel it to bend and angle in towards the second toe. With the daily repetition and exertion of pressure on this faulty joint, the angle of the toe will become more pronounced and along with it the unsightly and bulging lump will appear on the outer side of the big toe.

A bunion splint, at least the higher end ones, are designed to correct this biomechanical flaw. Or at the very least, counteract the pressure and encourage the toe to straighten out. Unfortunately, some individuals who wait too long to act will not be able to benefit fully from a bunion splint for the following reason.

Over time and if left untreated, the pressure on the toe joint causes a foot/toe deformity due to thickening of the bone. This is why it is very important to take proactive measures when it comes to your foot health.

How the Bunion Splint Works

Bunion splints work much in the same way as Breathe Right strips are used to open up nasal passages so people can sleep and how nail braces are deployed to cure ingrown toenails. If you are not familiar with these products, they essentially use pressure to pull nostrils open or to pull the outer edges of curved nails up so that they flatten out and no longer grow into the sensitive nail bed.

In ultra-simplistic terms, the bunion splint uses a similar application of pressure against the inner side of the big toe so as to reposition it over time – kind of like braces to fix crooked teeth. With continued use, though not necessarily all day or even permanently, the big toe will progressively become straighter.

As the big toe is pushed back into the place, the unsightly bump that is your bunion should correspondingly retract and result in a foot that shrinks in width. As your foot size returns to more proportional ratios and pressure is taken off the bunion, individuals report considerable decreases in pain.

Some bunion splints will merely address the toe. However, for comprehensive repair of the foot and toe joint, you will want to purchase a splint that also take into account the arches in your foot. Wait, did I say “arches”? As in, more than one?

Yep. I did. Your foot technically has two arches. You obviously know of the big arch but there is also a slight arch that runs the width of your foot…not just the length. You will want a splint that provides arch support in addition to the standard pressure it places on the toe muscles and tendon that allows the big toe to move up and down.

Types of Bunion Splints

There are two major types of bunion splints you can purchase online. You can also get custom molded splints by visiting a doctor. For the most effective home treatment regimen, you will most likely want to purchase at least two splints (as you will see why below):

  • Rigid bunion splints
  • Soft bunion splints

Rigid splints are not flexible and not designed to bear your weight. As such, you cannot walk or use them during the course of your daily activities. They are primarily designed to be worn at night while sleeping, but they can also be worn while awake and during times of rest.

Soft bunion splints are usually made out of some sort of fabric and constructed in such a way as to allow individuals to walk in them. Therefore, their major advantage is that you can wear them on a daily basis.

Generally speaking, the soft splints designed for daily wear are not really meant to be corrective in nature. They are designed to reduce the pain of the bunion and increase daily comfort. The rigid splints for night-time use are designed to treat the actual bunion.

Darco TAS™ Toe Alignment Splint

The Darco TAS Toe Alignment Splint is commonly prescribed to patients who have undergone bunion surgery due to the fact that it soft and flexible with straps that will not irritate the skin. The low-profile metatarsal band and t-strap design gently guides toe(s) into proper alignment for effective healing. Additionally, it is designed to be worn on your feet while wearing shoes.

The other selling point of this splint is that it is very versatile. It can be used to treat surgeries for bunionettes and hammer toes.

The Darco splint is a one size fits all device that is also latex free.

Reviews for the Darco TAS are extremely mixed. Though some people report success, many express complete dissatisfaction suggesting that the straps and brace move and do not stay in place.

However, the device is not very expensive and can be purchased for around $12-15 on Amazon. If you wait until after your surgery to purchase this brace from your doctor, it is likely that you will pay more than double for it.

Recommendation: Given the price and versatility of this brace, it is worth purchasing and trying it out to see if your results are satisfactory. If you are considering purchasing this brace for post-operative recovery, I would encourage you to buy it before the bunionectomy not only due to cost savings, but to try it out and see if it works.  You do not want to be in a situation recovering from surgery and having to wait several days for a new splint to be shipped to you.

FootSmart® Bunion Regulator

The FootSmart Bunion Regulator is a rigid, nighttime splint with a rather unique design. Unlike other braces that wrap around the heel and use the anchor as a heel with which to generate the corrective pressure against the big toe, this design angles straps underneath the arches of your feet to generate the leverage needed to manipulate the plastic brace the surrounds the big toe.

The hook and loop design is complimented by a soft foam lining to increase comfort. While you are sleeping the device gently stretches your tendon and toe muscles to reverse the development of the bunion.

Reviews are very favorable with many individuals stating that the product relieved pain quickly and reversed their worsening bunion situation. The only major drawback was some discomfort and adjustment to the rigidity of the design. As stated earlier in this article, rigid splint devices are designed to be corrective in nature and in order for correction to occur, some discomforting pressure must be applied. Moreover, some users cited discomfort with the plastic bracing that surrounds the big toe and rubbing against their second toe.

Recommendations: The FootSmart Bunion Regulator is a highly respected and reputable brace that can be purchased at a very reasonable price ($15-20). Just be aware of the fact that there will be an adjustment phase for the first day or so as you break in the device.

Caution: The manufacturer suggests that those with diabetes and poor circulation consult with a doctor before purchasing.

PediFix® Nighttime Bunion Regulator™

The PediFix Nighttime Bunion Regulator is nearly identical to the FootSmart Bunion Regulator in terms of design and price and inability to be used while walking. It also provides immediate relief for bunion sufferers.

Reviews of the PediFix are very favorable. Though this splint is considerably “less attractive” than the FootSmart offering it is made out of sturdier plastic. Unfortunately, it only adjusts in one place whereas the FootSmart version is more versatile. One note of caution. Some reviewers suggested that the plastic design placed significant pressure against the side of their big toe in such a manner as to cause their nail to dig into their skin and cause ingrown toenails.

Recommendation: If you like the FootSmart product then you will also like this one. It is really going to come down to a comparison of price and personal preferences. I suggest spending time reading reviews on Amazon to read personal accounts to see if their condition and experience resonates with your bunion condition.

Fabrifoam® Splint

Fabrifoam® is a composite material combining an open celled, elastomeric, non-latex foam with selected high quality and specifically engineered fabrics.
The Fabrifoam Splint is designed to stretch muscles and tendons while maintaining a lightweight composition.

Reviews and analysis of this product suggest that this splint is primarily geared toward those individuals with minor bunion issues and that the bracing is not strong enough to straighten out the big toe.

Recommendation: This product seems to offer minimal value and given its price point and narrow focus we cannot recommend it.

Bunion Aid®

Bunion Aid is unlike any other product on the market because it is designed to be worn day and night to provide continuous corrective pressure. This is accomplished via a hinge construction that realigns the big toe while allowing individuals to walk and be moderately active.

Curved straps provide a custom-like feel and fit while a padded lining protects and absorbs pressure placed on the bunion.

Manufactured with premium materials to produce a thin and lightweight device it is incredibly strong and durable. And unlike other bunion splints on the market, dual strapping around the midfoot arch prevents slippage and provides inward and upward support while giving maximum relief.

Reviews of the Bunion Aid are overwhelmingly positive and it is clearly the best bunion splint on the market. It offers superior benefits and protection and has been shown to be very effective in eliminating the need to have a bunionectomy. The major drawback is the cost of this product as it will cost you anywhere from $50-70.

Alpha Orthotics Corp Mid-foot Arch Support

The Medial Mid-foot Brace has a unique dual-strapping system that is positioned along the inside of the foot. What is interesting about this brace is that it provide inward and upward support to the mid-foot region.

The side splint supports the metatarsal bones and takes pressure off of the painful bunion while wearing shoes.

Recommendation: I have no personal experience with this product and available reviews by people who have bought this product are too few to draw any reasonable conclusion or assessment. But, the product is presented here because it is manufactured by the same company that produces arguably the best bunion splint on the market.

 

Non-surgical Bunion Pain Relief Options

Before embarking on the path of undergoing a bunionectomy, you should thoroughly investigate non-surgical bunion pain relief options to see if you can avoid bunion removal surgery. Depending on your personal situation, the condition of your foot bunion and whether or not the cost of a bunionectomy is within your financial means, it is quite likely that home treatment options might actually be more advantageous for you. Not to mention the fact that you will not have to endure the pain of surgery.

Believe it or not, there are quite a few tactics and options to consider.

Constructing a Conservative Bunion Pain Relief & Treatment Plan

There are many things you can do to help alleviate bunion pain and we are going to take a look at them below.

Lose Weight and Get in Better Shape

Before you roll your eyes or hit the back space button, I realize that this is a long-term solution to the problem. Obviously, this will not give you any sort of immediate relief. However, it is a simple fact that the big toe and toe joint carry the burden of your weight. Each time you take a step your body weight places downward pressure against the ground and that force cause your toes and joints to move and shift (often to your physical detriment).

If you are overweight, you are exacerbating your bunion pain.

Lifestyle Changes

If you have a bunion, you are going to have to come to terms with the fact that you are simply going to have to make some concessions and change your lifestyle to some degree. That doesn’t necessarily mean these lifestyle changes are permanent, though they may very well be. For some, they may merely be temporary as you work to alleviate the foot pain.

  • No more marathons
  • No more high heels or tight fitting shoes

Hopefully, whether your undergo bunion surgery or pursue non-surgical bunion removal methods you can eventually go back to wearing heels and engaging in strenuous physical activity that involves your feet.

Change or Modify Your Footwear

Your individual situation is unique to you and therefore the following suggestions may or may not work. Depending on the type of footwear you own, you could get it spot stretched so that it doesn’t place so much pressure on the area of your foot where the bunion is located.

Personally, I never pursued this option for two reason. The shoes that I owned were not suitable for stretching or they were too expensive and I did not want to permanently ruin them in the even that my bunion was removed/fixed.

However, women may be more likely to get some benefit from this tactic and it may make sense for them since they usually have a significantly larger collection of shoes. I basically own a couple of black and brown pairs and a couple of tennis shoes. Women wanting to maintain more variety in their fashion may select a handful to get stretched out.

The best option is probably opting to purchase specially made shoes for bunion sufferers. They are designed to have wide bases in the forefoot area and also have firm and sturdy heel molding to keep your feet from shifting.

Pamper Your Feet

Some individuals report getting a lot of mileage out of warm soaks with Epsom salt. Harvard Medical suggests as much, along with ice packs, if your bunion is acting up and giving you pain. Ask your spouse for some gentle massaging.

In general, you simply need to ease off the gas pedal of life so to speak and take it a little slower. Take your shoes off whenever possible. If your family wears shoes in the house, make a new rule that shoes aren’t allowed. This will train you to take your shoes off whenever you are inside and that will be good for your feet.

And while you are home, walk around with toe spacers or spreaders on your feet to help take pressure off the bunion and toe joint.

Bunion Splints and Bunion Socks

As we have discussed previously, your prototypical bunion occurs when the big toe starts to point inward toward the second toe. The sharper that angle, the bigger the bump (generally).

Bunion splints and bunion socks are designed to essentially reverse that inward pointing and apply pressure to the toe so that it points more towards the normal position. When you were a kid you may recall doing experiments with plants and sunlight. The plants would grow towards the sunlight. Think of these splints as creating sunlight from the front of the foot and causing the toe to want to revert back to the normal positioning.

There is an assortment of products on the market with many different splints to choose from. However, that is beyond the scope of this article which is designed to give you a broad overview of bunion pain relief options that do not involve surgery.

Please note that you can also see a podiatrist to get custom made orthotics designed for your individual foot and bunion.

Toe Spacers, Bunion Pads and Cushions

We touched on toe spacers very briefly in this article above. Spacers are similar in concept to the splints in that they are designed to keep toes from crowding each other. There are also a variety of bunion pads, gel inserts and other types of products designed to cushion the bunion so that it isn’t aggravated by the pressure that comes with the constricting contact of your footwear.

Cortisone Shots and Pharmaceuticals

Aside from the tips and products mentioned above, there are cortisone shots and pharmaceutical products that can act as anti-inflammatories and pain relievers. However, these are just temporary solutions that really just mask the pain and do not treat the underlying cause of the bunion. And there are side effects so make sure you thoroughly consult with your doctor.

Again, this is just an introduction to your different options when it comes to bunion pain relief. There are more exhaustive articles on this site where we delve into these in more detail.

 

Types of Bunion Surgery

Technological advances, scientific innovation and research have fundamentally changed how we treat bunions and led to an increase in the types of bunion surgery your doctor may prescribe for your specific condition. There are at least more than 100 types of bunion surgery according to WebMD.

Relatively speaking, most bunion sufferers only had a couple of different surgical options. Nowadays, it isn’t uncommon for two different procedures to be performed during the same surgical visit in order to repair your foot.

Since our goal is to provide you with easy to understand information in plain English, I will try not to bore you with too much detail. However, I want to provide you with a list of some of the most common types of bunion surgeries and bunionectomies so that you have a basic comprehension and reference point if you decide to consult with a doctor.

Names for the Most Common Types of Bunion Surgery

Here is a partial list of the most common procedures:

  • Lapidus Bunionectomy or Lapidus Procedure
  • Austin Bunionectomy
  • Keller Bunionectomy
  • McBride Bunionectomy

Each of these procedures are designed to address a specific bunion condition and some are more popular than others.

In general, you will find that all types of bunion surgeries strive to alleviate bunion pain by doing one of the following:

  • Fusion of big toe joint or where the metatarsal bone connects with the foot
  • Realignment of ligaments and soft tissues
  • Removal of protruding bone that causes the lump on the side of the foot
  • Removal of bone from foot or toe to straighten out the toe
  • Artificial implant of toe joint
 

What Causes Bunions?

One of the most frequently asked and incorrectly answered questions on the internet when it comes to bunions is: “What causes bunions?”

And I bet you will commonly read answers on sites like About.com that wearing the wrong type of shoes, tight shoes or high heels that cram your toes together causes bunions.

This answer is bunk.

Dr. Glen Copeland, is the author of one of the best-selling books on foot health issues called, “The Good Foot Book.” He writes on page 29:

Contrary to popular belief, bunions are not commonly caused by ill-fitting shoes, although in some cases shoes can worsen the condition. Still, at least one popular medical dictionary states that bunions are “usually caused by ill-fitting shoes.” Why then, do some people living in tropical climes – people who have never worn shoes – develop bunions?

He continues:

Another widely held belief is that the only way to rid yourself of [bunions] is to undergo painful surgery, suffering through a lengthy and uncomfortable recuperation period. Many bunions can be treated without surgical intervention.

And his answer makes sense. If people who do not wear shoes are getting bunions, clearly there has to be a reason that goes beyond the mere wearing of poorly fitted shoes. And when you examine the instances of bunions in men it should further make you wonder.

I do not know of any grown man who wears tight fitting shoes. Who does that? Heck, most guys probably wear shoes that are a half size or more too big on average. Us guys are not really interested in wearing tight fitting clothes or accessories of any kind, be it pants, shirts or shoes.

This urban legend probably takes root in the fact that on the surface it sounds legitimate and when we look at what contortionist women become when it goes to finding and wearing shoes it seem kind of logical. And what complicates the matter is that tight and constricting shoes can exacerbate the situation or cause some bunions in women. These are usually bunionettes or Tailor’s bunions located on the outside pinky toe.

Biomechanical and Anatomical Flaws Cause Bunions

There are many different things that can cause bunions to develop on your feet. The overwhelming majority of these causes will be biomechanical or structural in nature. For example:

  • Flat feet
  • Fallen arches
  • Biomechanical/abnormal pronation
  • Loose ligaments in the foot
  • Morton’s foot
  • Deformities in the bone and/or joint structures
  • Flat Feet and Collapsed Arches
  • Individuals with flat feet and no arches are susceptible to bunions due to the fact that the foot is not properly developed to accommodate the bearing and distribution of your body weight.

Abnormal Pronation

Take a moment to stand up and walk around a few steps. I want you to pay special attention to the movement of your foot and feel where your body and foot are placing pressure onto the ground.

Now, imagine your foot is a tire. A new tire or a tire in good condition should roll nice and flat along the surface of the road so that the weight of the vehicle is evenly distributed. Some cars have poor alignment or some tires may have air pressure levels that are too high or too low. As a result, you will see uneven wear on the tread.

Your foot is much the same way. A normal, healthy foot should distribute most of the weight of your body as it walks along the front of your foot with a slight preference to the big and second toe. When the foot pushes against the grown to propel you forward, the pressure on the slight extra weight on the big and second toe is called pronation. Pronation is the slight inward rotation of the foot as it pushes off.

Abnormal pronation occurs when your foot is placing too much of the load on your big toe. Your toe joint was not designed to bear such a disproportionate share of your body weight. As such, the constant strain, exertion and pressure of that body weight causes the joint and toes to become misshapen. Essentially, through time, your toes and the toe joint become a deformity.

Unfortunately for us, our bodies are not operating as they were designed and this causes bunions to appear. Much like we may need to take our car to a mechanic for a tune-up or repairs, there are things you can do to correct this problem without undergoing a bunionectomy.

This is where bunion splints and special orthotics come into play. With continued advances in research and study, doctors are optimistic that bunion surgery may become an obsolete and outdated treatment option in the future, except for those with severe problems or have refused to treat the bunion for quite some time.

When it comes to what causes bunions we can take comfort in knowing that there are solutions within our control that do not include surgery.

Loose Ligaments in the Foot

There are several different ligaments throughout the foot and ankle. Loose ligaments in the toes, specifically in the joint capsule of the big toe, allow bunions to develop more easily.

Morton’s Foot

Morton’s foot is a condition where the first metatarsal bone in the big toe which connects the toe to the whole foot is shorter than the other metatarsals in the other toes. As you can imagine, this creates uneven weight distribution and abnormal pressure on the big toe joint.

Structural Deformities

Other individuals may be born with bones and joints that do not develop properly. When the bones and joints take irregular shapes or do not function as designed, a bunion may occur.

Other Factors Causing Bunions

Medical literature cites genetics as also being a contributing factor in the occurrence of bunions. However, the hereditary issues are deemed to be a minor influence in the grand scheme of things and are far less important than the issues discussed above.

Another issue one must be cognizant of is foot traumas. If you injure your foot in some manner, you may consciously or unconsciously alter your gait or stride, shifting your weight and balance. The shifting of this weight, if the injury is prolonged and lingers, can cause a whole host of issues, including bunions.

There are numerous instances where professional athletes, like baseball pitchers, have had their throwing motion altered unknowingly in response to a variety of foot, ankle, knee and leg injuries. This has resulted in career ending elbow and shoulder injuries.

Obviously, you don’t have millions of dollars riding on the health of your foot. However, the point is that injuries to your feet or toes can lead to bunions.

The overwhelming majority of individuals dealing with bunions will fall into the very first category above.

 

What is a Bunion?

A bunion in its most base and simplistic definition is simply a bump. When it comes to foot ailments, there are many interesting and colorful names and descriptions. From corns to hammer toes, none of them sound all that pleasant or physically appealing. Bunions are no different.

It gets a bit more complicated when speaking of foot bunions because there are many different ways to categorize them depending on the context of the conversation.

Some people speak of bunions in terms of location on the body or foot and some speak about them in respect to their size or pain.

A bunion, or the bump, is referred to as a Hallux Valgus in medical literature.

Hallux, refers to the big toes. Therefore, whenever you see medical literature using the term Hallux in some manner (e.g. Hallux Valgus, Hallux Limitus or Hallux Rigidus) they are referring to some condition or state of the big toe on your foot.

Valgus means middle or midline. Imagine the space between your big toe (hallux) and your second toe…or better yet, take your shoes and socks off and look at it. You should be able to roughly draw a straight line between the two with space on either side of this imaginary line.  That line is essentially your “midline”. When your big toe bends or angles itself toward your second toe and crosses that line you are suffering from “Hallux Valgus”.

As this condition worsens, the joint area where your foot and metatarsal (i.e. the first and largest bone in your big toe) meet will expand outward and cause a bump which will increase in size as time goes on. Additionally, you may even see instances where the big toe not only angles in toward the second toe, but a rotation of sorts so that the inner right side of the big toe (on the right foot) and the inner left side of the toe (on the left foot) start to point toward the sky.

The most common and likely reason you might develop a bunion is due to a biomechanical flaw in your foot structure. Do not believe the myths that bunions are caused by footwear (though there are some exceptions to this rule) or too much calcium in your body or other such nonsense.

This biomechanical flaw may be partly attributable to genetics, birth defects, bone growth and development during your youth or from trauma or injury.

Types of Bunions

Believe it or not, bunions can occur on any of your toes but is far more likely to develop on the big toe or joint area since that is a weight bearing structure where most of the stress from walking is concentrated.

Though there are different types of bunions, they all are generally the result of friction that occurs in the joints of toes. The constant moving and flexing with the interaction of bones, cartilage and fluid will form the bunion if your body is not working properly.

Your joints are filled with cartilage and fluid contained in a bursa sac. The bursa sac acts as a cushion or lubricant between the bones and cartilage. If this cushioning sac of fluid becomes inflamed, also known as bursitis, that is when the pain will start to manifest itself.

Not all bunions hurt. So, just because you are not experiencing any pain it does not mean you do not have a bunion. You just happen to be fortunate and probably should seek aggressive treatment so that the problem does not worsen.

Bunion Location

On your big toe you will often see bunions arise in two prominent locations. The most well-known and likely location is the outer big toe joint area we discussed above. But, there are two other lesser well-known spots.

Dorsal Bunions

You may have heard the term “dorsal” used in an entirely different context. If you have studied marine biology or various oceanic creatures you will have undoubtedly heard the term “dorsal fin”. This is the fin that sits on the top of a shark, dolphin and killer whales.

A dorsal bunion is a bunion that forms on top of your toes.

When your metatarsal bone in the big toe (or any other toe for that matter) aggressively rubs or grinds against the next bone in the toe, the joint gets inflamed and the area forms a bunion in response.

Bunionettes

A bunionette, also known as a Tailor’s Bunion, is a bunion that occurs on the outer pinky toe. This condition overwhelmingly impacts women since the primary cause of a bunionette is the wearing of heels or shoes that constrict the toe area.

Bunions Categorized by Pain Level

A normal, run-of-the-mill bunion absent of any pain is generically referred to as Hallux Valgus. Or obviously, just simply referred to as a bunion.

However, doctors and medical professionals will sometimes refer to bunions accompanied by sharp, recurring pain as an “acute bunion”.

When attempting to remember what a bunion is, just remember that a bunion simply means a “bump”. There can be different causes of these bumps and that will often determine where the bunion is located.  Some bunions will hurt and many times they will not have any pain at all.

All bunions will require surgery if you do not take steps to treat the problem.

 

Curve Correct vs NailEase: A Review of Home Treatment Products for Ingrown Toenails

Just about everybody dreads the prospect of enduring surgery for ingrown toenail removal. Whether it is the fear of pain, concern about missing work and wages, or the belief that the cost is too much for them to handle, individuals suffering from ingrowing toenails often seek alternatives to ingrown toenail surgery.

Though there are a variety of options available we are going to look at the two most popular products on the market and review their strengths and weaknesses. These products are called Curve Correct and NailEase.

First, I will explain how these products work. Then I will describe each product in detail before finally concluding with a summary and recommendation.

How do products for home treatment of ingrown toenails work?

CurveCorrect and NailEase are very similar products that operate much the same way. They actually work much the same way the Breathe Right strips work. If you have watched any football games you may have seen athletes use this product to keep their nostrils open and allow the body to inhale oxygen faster and more efficiently.

The Breathe Right nasal strips
were originally invented as a non-pharmaceutical sleeping aid. Individuals who suffered from congestion or other nose conditions that constricted their nasal passages (and ability to breathe easily) would place these strips that look kind of like nose bandages laterally across their nose. The strips were made out of a material that naturally wanted to revert to a flat resting position. This pulling pressure on the nostrils caused them to flare open while the strips were held onto the skin with an adhesive.

CurveCorrect and NailEase work much the same way with your ingrown toenail. You place the brace on your toenail with some adhesive. The brace pulls the outer edges of your curved nails up to alleviate the pressure on your lateral nail wall and reduce the pain. Whereas individuals where the Breathe Right strips overnight or for a limited duration, you actually wear the toenail braces for several weeks at a time.

CurveCorrect Product Description

CurveCorrect, also spelled Curve Correct with the extra space, comes with ten toenail braces per package. Each brace is supposed to last anywhere from 3-6 weeks and customers are advised to replace the brace monthly. Customer reviews are overwhelmingly positive.

Women will appreciate the fact that the brace is transparent and invisible.

Moreover, after you place the brace on your toe and let the adhesive cure, the manufacturer states that it is perfectly acceptable to place nail polish on your toes and/or decorate with some nail designs. So, not only can you get near immediate pain relief from your ingrowing toenails, but you can still feel feminine, sexy and free to wear the open-toed footwear you desire.

The manufacturer of CurveCorrect has specially designed components that are made exclusively for their product and sells for approximately $45.

NailEase Product Description

NailEase is sold in a single use package with one toenail brace at a cost of around $15-20.

If you have been a long-time ingrown nail sufferer or have extremely curved nails, this could be problematic. The manufacturer states that the bonding agent for the brace can last anywhere from 3 week to 3 months and that new braces should be applied at intervals of 2, 6 and 12 months, depending on your specific toenail condition.

Additionally, the NailEase strip only comes in one color, black. However, the manufacturer states that you can also cover it with nail polish.

Reviews & Recommendations

Clearly, the products are very similar with near identical approaches to solving your ingrown toenail problem.

However, customer reviews for each product show some stark contrast.

Amazon customers express a near unanimous endorsement of the product with many them expressing absolute amazement and success with their product. There are two primary reasons for negative reviews:

  • some people who love the product still complained about the price tag and just generally felt the product was overpriced relative to the components in the packaging
  • a few people had difficulty applying the brace and getting it to adhere to their toenails

Based on the overwhelmingly positive reviews, I suspect that these are just a few isolated incidents of misapplication and failure by the customers to follow instructions. However, CurveCorrect offers a 110% guarantee so even if you have some issues with it you can return it without any issue.

Unfortunately for NailEase, the customer reviews on Amazon are much harsher. Though some report success, a higher percentage stated they had difficulty getting the brace to stick to their nail and there were a number of people saying they threw the product away or returned it.

Given the fact that it only allows for one use many people find the product to be ridiculously overpriced, even more so than the CurveCorrect product. NailEase does offer a 100% guarantee.

CurveCorrect or NailEase: Which one is right for you?

For most people reading this review, I think the best choice is going to be the CurveCorrect product. Though more expensive in the beginning, you are going to save money in the long run if you have serious ingrown nail problems.

Also, the stark black strip in the NailEase product is unsightly for women and men (who like to wear sandals or go barefoot).

I would only recommend NailEase for individuals with mild ingrown nail situations who believe that they can solve their problem with one application. However, given the issues people have expressed having in applying the brace to their nails, I would feel more comfortable practicing with a couple of the strips in the CurveCorrect package because even if you mess up you still have plenty more to last you for several months.

Recommendation: CurveCorrect

 

V Cut & Ingrown Toenails – Debunking an Urban Legend

If you have spent any considerable amount of time searching the internet for ingrown toenail treatments you may have come across recommendations that advise the practice of making a “v cut” incision to the tip of the problematic toenail.

The premise is that by small v-shaped wedge out of the tip of the toenail that you will alleviate the pressure forcing the nail to grow outward into your nail bed. The theory goes that since there is some space or gap created by the “v cut” that the essentially the nail will take the path of least resistance, similar to how water flows.

You can chalk this up to being an Old Wives’ Tale and an urban legend.

 

Can you show me how to cure an ingrown toenail?

A reader recently sent a question to ITS asking us asking how to cure an ingrown toenail. We will get to that in a minute. If you are interested in sending us a question, please drop us an email and we will do our best to answer it in a timely manner. Before sending us an email though, try to search the site to see if your question has already been covered.

Q. I keep getting ingrown toenails and I am tired of them. Can you show me how to cure an ingrown toenail without surgery?

A. Unfortunately, I do not have a simple, cut and dried answer for you.

Though we don’t really recommend home treatment and management of ingrown toenails, we realize that no matter what we say that some people are going to insist on treating their ingrown nails in the privacy and comfort of their own home or bathroom. There are a variety of things you can try to do in an attempt to cure an ingrown toenail problem. There are some products on the market you may want to consider.

CurveCorrect Ingrown Toenail Home Treatment Solution

CurveCorrect, is probably the most highly regarded home treatment option for those seeking to fix an ingrown toenail without going the surgical removal route. Some people feel the product is a little pricey as it sells for around $45 on Amazon. It gets fantastic reviews and even those who are critical of the products are primarily critical of the price, not the actual effectiveness of the product.

The part that concerns me is that you suggest that this has been a recurring issue for you for quite some time. Often, that is a tell-tale sign that you really will need to have ingrown toenail surgery to permanently cure the problem.

However, there are reviewers of Curve Correct who reported having ingrown toenails for years and felt near instant relief once they used the product and the manufacturer claims that only 8 percent of customers experience a reoccurrence.

NailEase Ingrown Toenail Relief Solution

NailEase is another option for those wanting to alleviate the pain of ingrown toenails at home. Although it is considerably cheaper with an initial purchase price in the range of $15-20, it is much more expensive than CurveCorrect when you factor in the fact that NailEase only comes with one nail application versus the package of 10 with CurveCorrect.

Also, the reviews have not been kind.

Ingrown Toenail Kits and Pain Reliever Products

There is a wide assortment of products that will help you in a variety of ways. You can purchase an ingrown toenail kit that comes with specially designed clippers, two-sided nail files, toenail lifters and pain reliever ointment. If you are using regular toe nail clippers you really need to consider one of these kits.

Then you have pain reliever products from Dr. Scholls and others.

Is an Ingrown Toenail Cure Possible?

There is only one absolutely surefire way to guarantee a cure of ingrown toenails and that is through full-blown ingrown toenail surgery that includes a matricectomy, or permanent removal of the nail bed. And that comes at a cost when you factor in the pain of the actual surgery, recovery and cosmetic damage to the visible appearance of your toenail. This is particularly a concern for women who like to have beautiful feet and where open-toed heels and footwear.

Those desiring to avoid surgery on their toenail may opt to go with a product like CurveCorrect or NailEase, just realize that it is possible that these particular home remedies for ingrown toenails are not always 100 percent effective.

 

Nail Designs and Ingrown Nails

A reader recently submitted an interesting question about nail designs, nail art and ingrown nails. Although I was pretty confident that I knew the answer, I wasn’t 100 percent sure. The question and answer is below. If you have some questions of your own and would like an answer, please drop me an email and I will do my best to answer.

Q. I like to pamper myself at the nail salon on a regular basis. When I go I frequently have different nail designs and nail art placed on my fingernails and toenails by the beautician. Will this cause me to get ingrown fingernails or ingrown toenails? Am I damaging my nails in any way?

A. Well, this is a fascinating question and I enjoyed researching an answer. Let’s first discuss the ingrown nail aspects.

Nail Designs, Nail Art & Ingrown Nails

The good news is that I could not find any evidence anywhere that suggested the actual act of placing nail polish, nail art or nail designs on your fingers or toes increased the likelihood of causing an ingrown nail. There is only one catch.

If your manicurist is not cutting your nails right it is possible that incorrect clipping and cutting may cause ingrown toenails and fingernails to develop. Of course, you would think that licensed manicurists would know how to clip nails properly (beauty school 101, right?). However, you would be wrong.

Perhaps, because the subject is so basic and we have all been cutting our nails on our own since we were kids that students tend to ignore it or gloss over it. There are correct and incorrect ways to cut nails. Nails should be cut straight across with gentle rounding on the corners. Often, and frankly I am guilty of this myself, we cut our nails in a curve and sharply cut our corners at an angle towards the edge of our nail bed. Tsk. Tsk.

Nail Health Affected By Nail Designs

The health, beauty and appearance of your nails can be impacted by nail art and nail designs. In reality, the same can be said for regular old nail polish, too. There are two ways that applying designs to your nails can cause damage.

First, you should require your manicurist to place a ridge filling base coat or layer down especially if you are planning on used dark polishes. Over time, repeated usage of dark nail polishes can give some ladies a yellowish tint to their nails.

Second, the manner in which you remove your nail polish is important. Acetone is a chemical found in some nail polish remover products and it is known to weaken nails and damage your nail plate. If you are in one of those moods where you are changing your nail polish frequently be mindful of this potential hazard.

Many nail growth problems and issues are directly related to nutrition and deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals in your body. There are products you can buy to strengthen nails like almond oil, but that is beyond the scope of this question.

Conclusion

There is really no evidence that designs and artwork placed on nails will cause ingrown nails. However, the pre-application prep work conducted by you or your beautician as well as your nail polish removal regimen will ultimately be the overriding factor in whether or not the nail designs negatively impact the health of your nails.