Bunions are the result of pressure forcing the bones in the joint of your big toe to become misaligned, resulting in a large, often painful and sometimes fluid-filled bump. In addition to the bunion itself, the skin covering the bunion can become inflamed and sore and can, over time, start to thicken, resulting in painful and unsightly calluses. Bunions are not isolated to the big toe; they can form at the base of the little toe as well when similar conditions are present. Concerned about bunions? They can be easily be prevented. Here’s how.
Reevaluate Your Shoe Choices
Certain shoe types can dramatically increase your risk of developing bunions. Ill-fitting shoes of any sort, especially those with tight or cramped toe boxes or shoes that are too narrow, are main culprits. If high-heeled shoes are a staple in your wardrobe, opt for those that don’t pinch your toes or push your feet forward. Consult with a podiatrist to determine which shoe is best for your feet.
Mind Your Diet
Maintaining a healthy diet – one that is low in sodium and fats – and keeping hydrated, can prevent your feet and joints from swelling and causing pressure and overcrowding in your shoes. Likewise, maintaining a healthy weight will put less pressure on your joints and feet.
Wear Protective Padding
Wearing “toe spreaders” – protective foam or felt pads – between your toes or pads at the base joints of your feet ensure your toes don’t start to invade each other’s space; this allows for a natural, pain-free gait. They also help relieve pressure, prevent callouses and can force the bone to realign over time.
Whether you take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or natural remedies like Turmeric, anti-inflammatory over-the-counter medications can reduce the inflammation that makes bunions painful.
Take Care if You Have Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis, gout and other inflammatory conditions can cause the feet to swell, creating conditions that are ripe for bunions. If you have a condition that causes swelling in the feet, take care to wear properly fitting shoes, consult often with your podiatrist and adhere to your treatment plan.
Get Fitted for Orthotic Inserts
Orthotics –shoe inserts that are custom-made by a podiatrist – provide the natural foot bed your feet need in shoes to reduce pressure on your joints and allow for a natural, comfortable gait.
Wearing specially made splints at night can keep your toes properly aligned while you sleep; they also work well to stretch out tight soft tissue structures.
Heat and Ice
Warm wraps are great for soothing tired, achy, painful feet. Ice will reduce swelling. Depending on your symptoms, speak to your podiatrist as to which is best for you.
Epsom salts are known for their natural healing abilities. Soaking your feet in a solution of Epsom salt and warm water is a natural way to reduce pain and inflammation.
When to Seek Medical Attention
If after you have tried these preventive measures you find your bunions are not improving or getting worse, it’s time to see a podiatrist. Your podiatrist can provide treatment to reduce swelling and inflammation, evaluate your gait, recommend the proper footwear, and develop a treatment plan. Depending on your condition, surgery may be recommended. Bunion surgery is used to realign bones, joints, nerves, ligaments and tendons, and remove the bony bunion as well. There are a number of surgical options to treat bunions; your podiatrist will recommend which option is best for you.
If you live in or near San Antonio, the Podiatry Group of South Texas is your foot care and bunion expert. With eight convenient locations in and around San Antonio, our providers are experts at treating foot conditions ranging from bunions, fractures and sports injuries to diabetes. If you want to get on the right foot, the Podiatry Group of South Texas can help. Request an appointment online today to take your first step to a lifetime of great foot heath.