Bunions are progressive foot deformities that are fairly recognizable once they get going. The tell-tale sign is a big toe that starts leaning out toward the little toes.
It's a painful condition that will only get more debilitating with time. But if we can diagnose it early, in most cases we can slow or even stop the bunion from forming.
So don't put off calling for an appointment.
While the obvious sign is a big toe trying to get cozy with the second toe, there's more to it than that.
Bunions form when the joints at the ball of the foot become enlarged and re position themselves, which creates a new bone formation and throws the big toe out of alignment.
The big toe starts to lean, and a bump starts to protrude outward from the instep where the big toe meets the foot. Sometimes the bump will become inflamed, tender to the touch and painful, adding even more discomfort.
Both traits make it very uncomfortable to wear shoes. In fact, many of our bunion patients come through the door wearing flip flops, which gets a bit chilly come January!
There's also a less common type of bunion called a tailor's bunion, which occurs on the other side of the foot at the base of the piggy toe.
Who Is At Risk?
Women are 10 times more likely than men to get a bunion. Sometimes bunions are inherited (thanks, Mom), but they have also been linked with tight, narrow and high-heeled shoes as well as ballet shoes.
We frequently see them with patients that suffer from rheumatoid arthritis or who have had certain types of injuries to the foot.
It's a myth that bunions only happen to the elderly - we've seen many patients in their 20s and 30s, and sometimes even kids with bunions.
- Resting the foot to allow healing
- Changing the type of shoes you wear
- Prescribing anti-inflammatory medications
- Injecting cortisone to reduce inflammation
- Applying a cold pack to relieve pain and inflammation
- Stretching exercises
- Silicone covers that fit over the bunion to reduce friction
- Devices such as bunion splints or custom insoles to support and re-position the joints
When To Seek Treatment?
Many patients won't realize they have bunions until they start to notice the deformity. The first sign is pain when walking or wearing shoes, especially if it's at the base of the big toe. If you're experiencing pain in this area or it hurts to walk or put on shoes, call our office for an appointment.
When you come into the office, we'll carefully examine your foot and may take X-rays to get a better view of how the toes are aligned. This can help us rule out other conditions like arthritis and gout that could contribute to a painful big toe.
For more advanced bunions, surgery may be necessary to remove the bony bump and put the big toe back in order.
In these cases, we can discuss custom orthotics and certain types of shoes that can minimize the chance that the bunion will return.
Dr. Amy Barko, CWSP, our podiatric surgeon, will go over a treatment plan with you if surgery is necessary. They are qualified to do many different bunion correction procedures including minimally invasive bunion surgery