A bunion is a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe. It forms when your big toe pushes against your next toe, forcing the joint of your big toe to get bigger and stick out. The skin over the bunion might get red and sore. Causes range from wearing tight, narrow shoes, inherited structural defect, stress on your foot or arthritis. Total Podiatry will use conservative measures to try to alleviate pain without surgery.
Bunions are often described as a bump on the side of the big toe, but a bunion is more than that. The visible bump actually reflects changes in the bony framework of the front part of the foot. With a bunion, the big toe leans toward the second toe, rather than pointing straight ahead. This throws the bones out of alignment—producing the bunion’s “bump.” Bunions are progressive and will become increasingly prominent.
Bunions are most often caused by an inherited structure of the foot. It is not the bunion itself that is inherited, but certain foot types that make a person prone to developing a bunion. Although wearing shoes that squeeze the toes won’t actually cause bunions, it sometimes makes the deformity get progressively worse. That means you may experience symptoms sooner and this may explain why women are more likely to have symptoms than men. In addition, spending long periods of time on your feet can aggravate the symptoms of bunions.
Bunion Symptoms, (which occur at the site of the bunion), may include:
- Pain or soreness
- Inflammation and redness
- A burning sensation
- Perhaps some numbness
Other conditions which may appear with bunions include calluses on the big toe, sores between the toes, ingrown toenail, and restricted motion of the toe. However, to fully evaluate your condition, Total Podiatry may take x-rays to determine the degree of the deformity and assess the changes that have occurred. Because bunions are progressive, they don’t go away, and will usually get worse over time. Nevertheless, some bunions progress more rapidly than others.
Once your case is evaluated, a bunion treatment strategy can be developed that is suited to your needs.
Sometimes observation of the bunion is all that’s needed. A periodic office evaluation and x-ray examination can determine if your bunion deformity is advancing, thereby reducing your chance of irreversible damage to the joint. In many other cases, however, some type of treatment is needed. Early bunion treatments are aimed at easing the pain, but they won’t reverse the deformity itself. These options include:
- Changes in shoe wear-Wearing the right kind of shoes is very important. Choose shoes that have a wide toe box and forget pointed toes or high heels which may aggravate the condition.
- Padding- Pads placed over the area of the bunion can help minimize pain. You can get bunion pads from Total Podiatry or purchase them at a drug store.
- Activity modifications-Avoid activity that causes bunion pain, including standing for long periods of time.
- Medications- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may help to relieve pain.
- Icing-Applying an ice pack several times a day helps reduce inflammation and pain.
- Injection therapy– Although rarely used in bunion treatment, injections of corticosteroids may be useful in treating the inflamed bursa sometimes seen with bunions.
- Orthotic devices-In some cases, custom orthotic devices may be provided by Total Podiatry
When Is Surgery Advisable as a Bunion Treatment option?
When the pain of a bunion interferes with daily activities, it’s time to discuss surgical options. Recent advances in surgical techniques have led to a very high success rate in treating bunions. The procedures are designed to remove the “bump” of bone, correct the changes in the bony structure of the foot, as well as correct soft tissue changes that may also have occurred. The goal of these corrections is the elimination of pain. In selecting the procedure or combination of procedures for your particular case, the Dr. Tribuiani and Total Podiatry will take into consideration the extent of your deformity based on the x-ray findings, your age, your activity level, and other factors. The length of the recovery period will vary, depending on the procedure or procedures performed.