Have you noticed a bony bump on the side of your big toe? It might be a bunion. Bunions are a common deformity that in severe cases can make even simple tasks (such as walking or standing for long periods) exceedingly painful.
What Causes Bunions?
Bunions often run in families; if one of your family members has bunions, you are more likely to get them. They are more common in women, who are more likely to wear tight and narrow shoes that can constrict the feet and cause problems with your foot's bone structure. They can also occur in people who have jobs that require strenuous use of the feet.
Bunions often occur in conjunction with arthritis. While part of this could just be that both are common as you age, it could also be due to the different way that patients with pain walk.
Symptoms of Bunions
The most common symptom of a bunion is a bump on the side of your big toe, but you might also notice some other symptoms. They include:
- Pain in the foot
- Difficulty moving big toe
- Unusually thick skin around big toe
- Redness or swelling around big toe
Treatment of Bunions
There are a number of different ways that bunions can be treated. Some of these ways include:
- New Shoes
Wearing tight, restrictive footwear can greatly increase pain from bunions. In order to prevent bunion pain, patients should stop wearing shoes with pointed toes. High-heeled shoes can also lead to bunion pain, so flat shoes with wide toes are best.
- Shoe Inserts
Using padded shoe inserts can make walking and standing more comfortable for people with bunions. You can try shoe inserts that are available in your local pharmacy or you can visit a podiatrist or foot surgeon to have a custom shoe insert (called an orthotic device) created for you.
- Pain Medication
Patients can take over the counter pain medication to help with bunion pain, especially when performing activities that typically aggravate the condition.
- Ice Packs
Applying ice to the bunion after strenuous activity can lower swelling and numb pain.
In extreme cases of bunions, non-surgical procedures may not be enough to stop the pain. There are several different types of bunion surgery available that can relieve foot pain and increase your quality of life. Different types of surgeries include:
- Joining the bones in the toe
- Removing swollen tissue around the joint
- Straightening out the abnormal bone
- Removing part of the bone
Your doctor will let you know what surgical procedure is needed for your bunion, if any. Not all bunions need to be operated on; if your bunion is not causing you a lot of pain and does not interfere with your everyday activities, you probably do not need surgery.
If you do not have a bunion or if you have had surgery and want to prevent getting another bunion, make sure you follow these two simple tips.
- Choose shoes that fit properly. Avoid shoes that squeeze your foot or that are painful to walk in. Try to find shoes that offer enough arch support.
- Avoid standing for long periods of time whenever possible.
That's it! These two tips won't always prevent bunions from occurring if you have a strong family history of them, but they will certainly cut down on your risk.
Bunions can range from an annoying problem to a debilitating disorder. If you think you might have a bunion, visit your podiatrist clinic and have your feet examined. Your doctor is always the best person to help you come up with the proper treatment plan for your bunions.