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Bunion surgery and bunion therapy on the foot

Hi Jonathan,

I had bunion surgery 16 months ago and was told that I have scar tissue. My doctor gave me an injection which was very very painful. After the shot, I did feel better for awile. He did tell me to massage it. I feel that I am back to square one. I am not sure if I should go for one more shot. It still hurts to walk, and I really don't know what to do.

Please help,


Hi Ginny

Thanks for your question. First, we should probably talk about what a bunion is, and then I'll talk about ways and ideas for you to work with it.

What Is A Bunion? A bunion is one problem that can develop due to a foot deformity. The bone which joins the big toe, the first metatarsal, becomes prominent on the inner border of the foot. This bump is the bunion and is made up of bone and soft tissue.

What Causes Bunions?
By far the most common cause of bunions is the prolonged wearing of poorly fitting shoes, usually shoes with a narrow, pointed toe box that squeezes the toes into an unnatural position. Bunions also may be caused by arthritis or polio. Heredity often plays a role in bunion formation. But these causes account for only a small percentage of bunions.

A study by the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/) found that 88 percent of women in the U.S. wear shoes that are too small and 55 percent have bunions. Not surprisingly, bunions are nine times more common in women than men.

So Ginny, if you haven't yet taken a good look at your shoes, TODAY would be a good time to do that. You may really like your shoes, but if they're what's continuing to cause your pain, you might want to wear them less, or not at all.

I'm not sure what the doctor injected when you received your shot. Your doctor may have given you a cortisone shot, and just for the record, I am not a fan of cortisone shots.

When you're having pain, it's your body telling you that there's something wrong in an area. Imagine pain being like having a fire alarm in one room of your house. The fire alarm is going off, trying to tell you something is wrong, and having a cortisone injection is kind of like closing the door to the room where the fire is, hoping that will make the alarm quieter and that the problem will go away.

But that fire alarm is a symptom of the actual fire, and closing the door to the room or disconnecting the alarm won't get rid of the fire.

So ask your doctor if what was injected was actually cortisone/cortisol. If so, I would only use that injection if the pain is completely stopping you from living life. Otherwise I would seek out all other options first to fix the problem.

When your doctor recommended massaging your foot, were you given any information on how to massage it?

Here's a great simple foot massage from CMT Sylvia Carlson. You can do this in 5 minutes or less. I would recommend doing this twice a day for at least two weeks and see what results you can start to achieve.

Foot massage - sit in a chair or on the floor. Get comfy. You may or may not want to use lotion or oil. If you are sitting up, rest one foot on the opposite leg. Put one hand on top of the foot and the other closer to your toes, then stroke smoothly from your toes to your ankles. Glide your hands to the sole of your foot and massage the underside of your foot. Support your foot with one hand and with the other make a fist. With a circular motion move along the sole of your foot. Support your foot with one hand and work on each toe individually. Squeeze and gently twist and stretch each toe. Stroke around the ankle with your fingertips, as you stroke up toward the leg and then glide back to your toes. Finish by stroking your entire foot again. Do the same to your other foot.

Also, sometimes it's hard to tell how much the massage is really helping. So when you first start, work one foot really thoroughly. Then stand up and walk around. You will start to notice the differences from one foot to the other.

So, in conclusion:

Check out your shoes.
Your toes should all be able to lie flat on the bottom surface of the shoe when they're inside the shoe.

Find out what was injected into your foot. I don't recommend any further cortisone injections (if that's what was injected).

Massage your feet for at least 5 minutes/day, at least twice/day.

For some more specific kinds of techniques you can use, you can also check out Hey, Don't Touch Me!

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