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A painful little toe can be treated at home using non-surgical treatment methods and lifestyle changes. Non-surgical methods should be used prior to surgery. In most cases, they can help with bunionette pain relief.

Although surgery is quite effective when it comes to treating a painful little toe caused by a bunionette, there are a number of things that can be done in order to resolve the pain without it.

Why not opt for surgical treatment right away and not lose time with nonsurgical treatment? There are a few reasons for taking a shot with nonsurgical bunionette pain relief:

  • Every surgical procedure carries some risks with it. For example, diabetic patients are prone to infections and their healing processes are slowed down, so there is a chance that a wound after the operation wouldn’t heal fast or could even get infected and cause further complications. Other diseases and patient’s health condition may be a reason to avoid surgery too. The procedure is carried under general or spinal anesthesia, which is another risky move, especially in elderly people. The risk to benefit ratio is a very important aspect of medical thinking.
  • A bunionette doesn’t look good (also, it is not as visible as a bunion). Surgery won’t make it look a lot better either. The purpose of surgical treatment is to resolve the pain, primarily. The aesthetical correction of your bunionette is not that apparent. So, if you want to treat your bunionette surgically just for esthetic reasons, think twice.
Having the facts mentioned above in mind, non-surgical treatment and lifestyle changes are a logical therapeutic move. They provide good results and the majority of painful bunionettes can be successfully controlled just by correcting some habits (like wearing ill-fitting shoes) and taking extra care of your foot [1].

These lifestyle changes can help you with a painful little toe:

  • 1. Maintaining a normal weight.

While weight loss cannot repair the damage by itself, it is a risk factor for foot deformities (including bunionettes). Simply, the amount of pressure the foot takes is a lot larger in overweight people and it can speed up the development of the existing condition. The less weight you have, the less pressure is on your feet and the pain is lower.

  • 2. Use ice packs, shoe inserts, adequate footwear, splint, pads and massage under your doctor’s supervision.

All those measures are also known as nonsurgical treatment of your painful little toe. With patience and discipline, nonsurgical treatment will resolve the pain in the most patients with painful bunionettes. Gel pads are a bit more comfortable. They may be a bit more expensive, but they are extra soft and can provide better protection to a bunionette. So, if the classic orthotic devices didn’t work out for you, try those gel versions. All those orthotic devices are over the counter devices, easily available in pharmacies. [2]

  • 3. Change the type of your physical activity.

Since mechanical irritation of the bunionette is the cause of your pain, running or walking, for example, are probably not the best physical activities you can choose to maintain your overall health. Swimming is the best way to relieve the tension and pressure on the foot since it is an activity that can be done barefooted. It is the perfect aerobic activity for relieving the pressure on the body joints and the foot. If you have decided to continue your usual physical activities, make sure that you wear adequate fit shoes. Have in mind that heel fit is one of the most important factors when it comes to exercise tolerance in elderly with foot deformities [3].

  • 4. Take care of calluses

Some patients actually don’t have a painful bunionette, but a painful callus in the area of the bunionette. Reducing them regularly and keeping the skin of the foot soft and healthy can help to decrease the discomfort caused by painful little toe. It can be done as an office procedure [4].

  • 5. Walk barefoot

Walking barefooted (or with the appropriate foot ware that removes the outer pressure from the bunionette) can help with bunionette pain relief. Of course, you should take care of the safety issues and avoid walking barefooted on the public places where you could injure yourself with pieces of glass or scraps of metal.

  • 6. Avoid high heels and get appropriate shoes

High heels and small shoes are the most important risk factor for bunionettes in women [5]. The foot is sliding down the shoe, comprising the toes into the tip of the shoe, increasing the pressure and forcing the toes and foot bones into the non-physiological position that provokes the pain. Low heel or flat shoes are “bunionette friendly” footwear [6]. Shoes with wide toe box are recommended. Also, always measure your feet when buying a new pair (workers in the shoe stores have a special device that can determine the exact size of a foot), since as the time passes by the foot changes, and the right fitting shoes are critical to the successful non-surgical treatment of bunionette [7].

  • 7. Be extra cautious if you are diabetic!

Diabetic neuropathy can make the bunionette painless, speeding up the development of it. Calluses may bleed or the surrounding tissue can get inflamed and infected, which can lead to a more serious health condition. Simply, diabetes fans the flames of a bunionette. Keep your feet clean (soap bath them twice a day) and look for injuries every night before going to bed [8]. If you notice any sign of Tailor’s bunionette, ask a referral to podiatrist [9].

  • 8. Use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

They can provide relief, but be careful when taking those. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should be used not as a permanent solution to a painful bunionette, but to relieve the symptoms in episodes of severe pain. [10]