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Bunionette can be treated surgically and non-surgically. Exercises have an important role in both types of bunionette treatment. In the non-surgical method, exercises are used to prevent further deterioration and in surgical the goal is rehabilitation.

In medicine, the prevention is the best treatment approach, and this can be applied to bunionette treatment too. Even if the surgical correction of bunionette has been made, it doesn’t mean that the bunionette problem is resolved completely. Unfortunately, bunionettes are one of those medical conditions that require constant attention no matter what treatment approach has been chosen. Even though painful bunionette seems like a benign problem, it is a cause of walking difficulties in almost 50 percent of patients [1].

Why is it necessary to do exercises?

There are two main reasons:

  • prevention of further development of this condition
  • relief of the existing symptoms

Have in mind that exercises make sense only if they are supported by other recommended measures, such as adequate footwear (improper footwear is the most important risk factor for painful little toes!) [2]. The good thing is that you can apply these 8 lifestyle changes to cure your little toe and you can perform these exercises or at your work place. 

Bunionette does not have a tendency to stabilize by itself. On the contrary, the untreated condition worsens as the time goes by, and the speed of deterioration of affected bone and skin increases. A proper care and exercises can slow down the process, provide bunionette pain relief or stop it completely. On that way patients that react well to the exercises avoid surgery. In the majority of patients, exercises combined with pain killers provide sufficient control over the condition [3].

Exercises for a nonsurgical treatment of painful little toe

  • Stretch your toes!

This exercise is performed by pointing toes ahead as much as you can for five to ten seconds and then curling them for another five to ten seconds. While performing this exercise, you should feel a comfortable tension in the foot. Forcing the movement beyond the boundaries of pain is not recommended. You should repeat the movements 10-15 times in each session.

  • Pressing toes against the floor

Sit down with your feet flat on the floor. Lift the toes towards the head hold for a couple of seconds and then push them as much as you can against the floor. Keep the pressure for 5-10 seconds and repeat the exercise five to ten times in each session. Again, if it hurts- you are doing it wrong. You should feel nothing more than a comfortable tension.

  • Rolling your foot over a tennis ball

Take a golf, a tennis or some other small round object and roll your feet over it. Push your feet against it until you feel a pleasant massage sensation (if it hurts, you are pushing too hard, release the pressure). Perform this exercise for a few minutes each day. This exercise is particularly useful if you have foot cramps during the day.

  • Walking on a sand

Sand can do miracles for your feet! Whenever you can walk barefooted on a sand. Long walks along the beach will relax your feet and compensate any mechanical imbalance in your feet (which is the main cause of pain in patients with a bunionette). The walking session should last 30 minutes to an hour. Again, if you feel the pain in your feet, stop and rest until the pain subsides.

Post-surgery exercises

The purpose of post-surgery exercises is to regain the foot function as fast as possible. Although they are an extremely important part of the recovery process, performing them carefully and at the right time is even more important. Early exercises may be painful to a certain degree. The recovery process can last for 3-12 weeks (depending on the severity of the condition and the surgical technique chosen). The bone healing process and reestablishment of a foot function can last up to 12 months [4].

After the surgery, the first two weeks of recovery will require bed rest and foot elevation. Gentle movements of the toes will help the healing process, but again, a patient should be extra cautious while moving toes (the "no pain — no gain" principle does not apply in this situation!).

In the third week after the operation, you should begin with gentle stretching and flexing exercises. Stretch your toes towards the head and hold them in that position for five to ten seconds. Stretch them until you feel a very mild pain in your foot. Then flex them gently, again, until you feel a pain in your foot. Keep them in that position for another five to ten seconds. Repeat the movement three times a day. Each day the range of movement should increase and the stiffness you felt after the surgery will subside.

In the next three weeks increase the frequency of the exercises for five to six times a day.

In the sixth week after the surgery, you should be able to walk on your own. Wearing wide toe box shoes and using crutches will help you maintain the physical activity at a satisfying degree [5]. If you can, you should walk uphill.

Massage your foot gently and stretch the little toe in different directions (only to the point of slight discomfort).

What is the first sign of full recovery after the bunionette surgery?

The answer is simple. The first time you use the foot brake while driving without any pain in the foot is the moment you were waiting for. The recovery process is over at this point. Keep in mind that you should continue with exercises for bunionette pain relief mentioned in the non-surgical treatment section of this article.

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