Money Matters: 3 Tips When You Need Bunion Surgery With Limited Resources

Many people struggle with painful foot ailments, such as bunions, but are either uninsured or their insurance might decline or delay covering surgery. In the meantime, there are ways you can reduce pain or utilize other resources to have surgery.

Try Non-Surgical Options

In the case of being denied by your insurance, you might need to prove that you have tried other methods to manage your bunions before surgery is approved. For example, you might need to be referred to a physical therapist who can prescribe orthopedic devices to minimize foot pain. In addition to cushioning the bottom and sides of your toe, they might also recommend specialty footwear. Wearing specialty footwear may also prevent your bunion from becoming worse and making it impossible to walk on the affected foot. Although trying non-surgical options like physical therapy is not guaranteed to encourage your insurance to approve surgery, it can show that you have no other options to correct the problem.

Discuss Injectable Or Topical Treatments

Speak with your family doctor or podiatrist about any injectable or topical treatments that can help reduce pain and give you more time to find help covering surgery. Some doctors, mainly specialists, might feel comfortable doing corticosteroid injections in their office. When the steroid is injected into the base of the toe, it can help alleviate inflammation that contributes to pain. If the injection is effective, it might provide relief for several months. Ultimately, it is up to your doctor how often you can receive injections. Over time, you might find the steroids wear off faster. Lidocaine cream is a topical option that might help with pain. The retail versions are only a maximum of 4% lidocaine, so you may need to ask your doctor for a prescription version. If you use lidocaine, try to use it sparingly so it takes longer to build a tolerance to the medication.

Consider Clinical Trials

If you and your doctor agree you need surgery and do not have any non-surgical options remaining, you can investigate clinical trials for bunions. Every clinical trial is different, and some may offer the surgery for free or some of the fees may need to be covered out-of-pocket or by insurance. Participating in a podiatry clinical trial can allow you to have a much-needed surgery while helping researchers try new surgical approaches or post-operative procedures. For example, researchers may have the goal of decreasing healing time by trying a different surgical approach or they may want to determine if physical therapy earlier in the healing process produces better outcomes.

Being uninsured or denied by your insurance can make it seem like your foot pain will be a permanent problem. Fortunately, there are ways to help with pain and other avenues for surgery.