More than half the women in America have bunions, a common deformity often blamed on wearing tight, narrow shoes. Bunions cause the base of your big toe (Metatarsophalangeal Joint) to enlarge and protrude. The skin over it may be red and tender. This can be acquired through time or it can be congenital (you got it from your family)
Wearing any type of shoe may be painful. This joint flexes with every step you take. The bigger your bunion gets, the more it hurts to walk. Bursitis may set in. Your big toe may angle towards your second toe, or even move all the way under or over it. The skin on the bottom of your foot may become thicker and painful.
Pressure from your big toe may force your second toe out of alignment, sometimes causing it to overlap your third toe. If your bunion gets too severe, it may cause be difficulty in walking. Your pain may become chronic and you may develop arthritis.
Most bunions can be treated conservatively with wider & softer shoes, pads to relieve the pressure and/or medications. If this does not help then surgical treatment is indicated.
Bunion surgery, or bunionectomy, realigns the bone, ligaments, tendons and nerves so your big toe can be brought back to its correct position and the bump on the inside of the joint removed. Many bunion surgeries are performed on a same-day basis (no hospital stays) using a local anesthesia. During your recovery it is common to have pain and swelling. This swelling and stiffness may be persistent for several months.
Treatment for Bunions
Because they are bone deformities, bunions do not resolve by themselves. The goal for bunion treatment is twofold: first, to relieve the pressure and pain caused by irritations, and second to stop any progressive growth of the enlargement. Commonly used methods for reducing pressure and pain caused by bunions include:
- Protective padding, often made from felt material, to eliminate the friction against shoes and help alleviate inflammation and skin problems.
- Removal of corns and calluses on the foot.
- Changing to carefully fitted footwear designed to accommodate the bunion and not contribute toward its growth.
- Orthotic devices—both over-the-counter and custom made—to help stabilize the joint and place the foot in the correct position for walking and standing.
- Exercises to maintain joint mobility and prevent stiffness or arthritis.
- Splints for nighttime wear to help the toes and joint align properly. This is often recommended for adolescents with bunions, because their bone development may still be adaptable.
Depending on the size of the enlargement, misalignment of the toe, and pain experienced, conservative treatments may not be adequate to prevent progressive damage from bunions. In these cases, bunion surgery, known as a bunionectomy, may be advised to remove the bunion and realign the toe.
There are currently more web sites on the Internet having to do with foot fetishes than with foot health.
If you have a bunion that's causing you pain, call our Albuquerque, NM podiatry office at (505) 247-4164 to schedule an appointment.