Over time, the bone structure is altered and a bunion bump develops. This condition may have complications including arthritis or bursitis if left unchecked. The symptoms tend to appear at later stages and may be absent in some people.
What is a Bunion?
In addition to the prominent bump on the foot, the symptoms of bunions include:
- Pain and tenderness
- Inflammation and redness
- Calluses or corns on the bump
- Restricted motion and stiffness in the big toe
- Difficulty walking
A foot and ankle surgeon will be able to diagnose your bunion from the appearance of your toe and your symptoms. The surgeon may order X-rays. X-rays provide a clear image of your bone structure and will allow the surgeon to check your toe alignment and inspect the damage to the big toe joints.
Your bone alignments change when you sit or stand. X-rays are taken while you are standing to determine the extent of misalignment. The Surgeon will determine the severity of the bunion and develop a suitable plan to correct it.
In many cases, you can treat bunions without surgery although these options cannot “reverse” the condition. They help manage the pain and may slow the progression.
- Footwear changes – In most cases, bunion pain can be managed by simply switching to well-fitting shoes that don’t compress the toes. The Foot and Ankle Wellness Center can provide information on proper shoe fit and the shoe types that are best for you.
- Padding – Protective pads will help cushion the painful areas around the bunions. You can obtain these from The Foot and Ankle Wellness Center, pharmacy or drugstore.
- Orthotic Devices – Dr. Foster may prescribe custom orthotic devices. These devices take the pressure off the bunion. They may include toe spacers and night splints among others.
- Modifying Activities – In some cases, avoiding or reducing activities that cause pain such as standing for long periods provides relief.
- Ice – Ice application for about 20 minutes several times a day helps reduce swelling
- Medication – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen and ibuprofen can help alleviate pain and swelling
- Corticosteroid Injections – Corticosteroid injections are used to treat bunions and may be beneficial in reducing inflammation around the bunion.
Dr. Foster may recommend bunion surgery if the symptoms do not improve after footwear changes and non-surgical treatments. Surgery realigns your bones, tendons, and ligaments to bring them back to a more natural position.
Several surgical procedures are available to rectify bunions including bunion removal (exostectomy), joint realignment (osteotomy) and joint surface removal (arthrodesis). At The Foot and Ankle Wellness Center, will select the appropriate procedure based on the severity of the deformity, age, activity level, and other factors.
Bunion Treatment Options
The Causes of Bunions
Bunions start out small and tend to worsen over time especially if you continue wearing tight, narrow shoes. Since the largest joint in the big toe flexes with each step, it becomes more painful and difficult to walk as the bunion gets bigger. An advanced bunion will alter the appearance of your foot significantly. Not all cases of bunions are the same. Some progress much faster than others.
In severe cases, the big toe can angle all the way over or under the second toe. Sometimes, calluses may form where the toes rub against one another resulting in difficulties walking and additional discomfort.
While the exact cause of bunions is unclear, it is often the result of heredity. Some individuals inherit feet with a defective mechanical structure that makes them prone to developing bunions.
Wearing ill-fitting shoes, particularly shoes with narrow and pointed toe boxes or high-heeled shoes may force the toes into an unnatural position. Having an inflammatory condition like rheumatoid arthritis or neuromuscular conditions can also lead to bunion formation.
Feel free to contact The Foot and Ankle Wellness Center if you exhibit any of the symptoms associated with bunions for diagnosis and treatment. Remember, the earlier intervention can prevent the condition from worsening.