Many people, especially older adults, have bunions – the painful, bony bump that can develop along the inside of the foot at the base of the big toe. It results in a telltale inward bend of the big toe. The bunion itself may be red and tender to the touch.
What exactly is a bunion and is it serious?
A bunion is a misalignment of bones in the big toe joint that gets progressively worse over time. Bunions occur most often in females as a result of wearing tight, ill-fitting shoes – especially those with a narrow, pointed toe box that is common with high heels. This shoe design forces the toes into an unnatural position and shifts the bones that form the big toe joint out of place over time. The bone and tissue around the joint become enlarged due to friction and inflammation, resulting in a bunion.
Genetics also affects the shape of your foot and can predispose you to bunions. In addition, arthritis can contribute to the formation of bunions.
Bunions are sometimes referred to as hallux valgus. A bunionette is similar to a bunion, but it occurs on the outside of the foot and involves misalignment of the little toe rather than the big toe.
Diagnosis and Bunions Treatments
Because the pain associated with bunions may get worse with time if not treated, it is important to have your foot examined by a qualified, experienced podiatrist. Don’t delay. Early treatment can usually relieve pain and mobility problems with conservative therapies.
Treatment typically revolves around alleviating symptoms. Switching to wider footwear to accommodate the size of the bunion can bring relief. Your podiatrist may recommend you use bunion pads or orthotics (shoe inserts) to cushion the feet in shoes and make walking more comfortable.
Cold compresses may be used to alleviate swelling and pain in the area, and pain relievers can help, especially if the pain is intermittent and not severe.
Bunion surgery is not a quick fix. Although surgery can restore pain-free mobility, recovery may take as long as six months or more. While there are several surgical approaches for correcting or removing a bunion, surgery typically involves realigning the bones of the big toe joint and repairing soft tissue (tendons and ligaments) surrounding the big toe. In some cases, the surgeon may also remove the bony bump.Surgery to correct a bunion is a last resort. Sometimes called a bunionectomy, it is recommended only when your bunion causes significant pain and interferes with your daily activities, or when the deformity becomes so severe that the big toe crosses over the second toe. Your podiatrist will examine your foot and let you know if you are a candidate for surgery.
For patients with arthritis affecting the bunion, damaged tissue may be removed and surgical hardware used to hold the bones in place until they heal, or the big toe joint may be fused or replaced with artificial components.
Living With Bunion Pain? Contact Our Podiatrists Today!
Tired of living with bunion pain? Don’t wait until it gets worse. Early treatment can help you avoid the need for surgery. Schedule your consultation with The Podiatry Group of South Texas by calling the location nearest you or using our convenient appointment request form.