If you suffer from bunion pain or the complaints of someone who does, this blog is for you!
I hail from Southern California-the land of sunshine, driving to work and flip-flops. A girl-with-a-bunion’s dream. Now I live in London, which is probably all the explanation I need to give for most of you reading this, but if you’re from afar, let me put it this way…if it weren’t for the fact that I’m a yoga teacher, I would never see my toes! (Fortunately for the general public, as I have a massive bunion on my right foot.)
Anyway, with the amount of walking I do in London (in closed-toe shoes) combined with my yoga practice and teaching, my bunion was bringing me a great deal of pain. I usually just grin and bear it when it comes to pain, plus the idea of surgery is of course scary and inconvenient. I’ve tried cushions and separators (too much fuss!), but finally decided to just live with it. Thankfully, I happened to hear about a Pilates teacher that is in a similar boat to me. She gets an injection of hyaluronic acid (Ostenil) in her bunion twice a year to help cushion the joint and ease discomfort.
What is Hyaluronic Acid??
It is a compound found in your synovial joints, ex. shoulders, elbows, knees and toes!, as well as eyes and skin that acts as a lubricant and shock absorber. Hyaluronic acid can be injected into any synovial joint to increase the viscosity of the synovial fluid resulting in less stiffness and pain. I decided to speak to Dave Baker (one of the clinical directors at Complete Physio) about it, and although he was clear to explain that the results vary, he also gave me a few reassuring examples of patients these injections have helped-including himself. Enough said! I booked myself an appointment.
I went into Complete Physio’s Moorgate clinic to see Dave, and although I was nervous, his confidence and clear explanation eased my worry. He used ultrasound imaging to look at my big toe (metatarsophalangeal) joint and see what was going on in there. Luckily, there was only a little bit of arthritis and damage, and it was mostly thickening of the tissue. The first metatarsal bone wasn’t too far out of place (my toes are all in a relatively happy line), so if the injection went well, I could push surgery out of my mind for the time being.
Upon my request, he injected a local anesthetic (hey, why not?). While letting the anesthetic take effect, he used the ultrasound machine to determine exactly where he wanted to inject the Ostenil. It was interesting to see the joint and what it looked like in there! It was also great that with the machine, he could guide the needle exactly where he wanted to insert the solution. It was over before I knew it. I was in and out in less than 30 minutes-even with all the questions I asked!
For myself, I noticed a difference immediately, even after the local anesthetic wore off. I’ve had a bunion since I ran track and cross-country when I was a teenager! I’ve been used to the pain, and suddenly, to not feel it, left me surprised and quite happy! I’ve given it a few months before writing about it, and I’ve only recently started feeling some minor discomfort in my bunion on occasion after a long day of walking or teaching (whereas before I would feel it daily). I am really pleased with the results. A quick injection once or twice a year is definitely worth the benefits. Bunion pain can affect your mood and bring a lot of discomfort, making normal activities difficult and much less enjoyable. Since the injection, luckily for my husband, I complain a lot less! I rely on my feet, and as a yoga teacher, I couldn’t imagine leaving my jobs and students for several weeks to have surgery.
If you’re suffering from bunion pain, just know that there are options out there for you. It’s easy to become complacent when it comes to pain, especially when a condition is irreversible; however, it’s good to know relief exists!
To book in or find out more information, give Complete Physio a call or send them an email. Diagnostic ultrasound can be a useful tool to look deeper into the problem, and an ultrasound-guided injection just might be the answer you’ve been looking for.
020 7482 3875
Want to read more information?
Dave Baker (email@example.com) and Chris Myers (firstname.lastname@example.org), both Clinical Directors at Complete Physio, are two of the few physiotherapists in the UK certified as a musculoskeletal (MSK) sonographers. Read more about them here: http://www.complete-physio.co.uk/meet-the-team.
If you’d like to read more about the growing field of MSK ultrasound and ultrasound guided injections, check out this link: http://www.complete-physio.co.uk/services/ultrasound.