Bunions can be painful, and it can be scary not knowing anything about bunions especially when you have a bunion which may be causing you pain.
Bunions are actually very common, and there are many treatments to help relieve bunion pain and fix the bunion deformity, including a variety of surgical procedures to repair the bone structure and soft tissue issues.
A study showed that up to 23% of the population aged 18 to 65 have a bunion*.
And in today’s post we’ll go over what exactly bunions are, what may have caused your bunion, and how to effectively treat your bunion and relieve pain.
What is a Bunion?
Contrary to common misconception, a bunion is not a bump on the bone but rather the base of the big toe itself, pushing against the first metatarsal bone causing the joint to protrude outward and making it look like bump.
Bunions form at the joint where the big toe meets the first metatarsal, this is where the big toe bends when walking. When you have a bunion a lot of weight gets pressed on the bunion with each step that you take, this can cause pain. Also, the bunion can cause calluses to form when your shoe rubs against the bunion.
Problems with the feet often get worse with age. When we mature into adulthood our feet continue to change and spread causing problems to worsen.
Bunions are a result of poor foot structure and can run in the family. A bunion can develop arthritis and a bunion can develop if one leg is longer than the other. Womens are much more likely to develop bunions because wearing tight-toed shoes such as high heels will push the toe into an unnatural position overtime.
Symptoms of a Bunion
It is very easy to distinguish a bunion. Take a look at the base of your big toe, is there a bump there? Does your big toe point outward? This is most likely a bunion. It may be red, swollen, tender to the touch, or even painful. With time it may even become shiny and may feel warm when touched.
Diagnosing a Bunion
A podiatrist will likely do an X-ray of your bunion to see the severity of the bone deformity. Blood tests may also be done to see if there is a type of arthritis present, such as gout, or if there may be an infection which is causing pain. After evaluation your podiatrist will determine the best course of treatment - whether you need custom made orthotic shoes, custom shoe inserts, medication, surgery, or any other type of treatment.
Bunion Pain Relief - Bunion Treatment
To relieve bunion pain your podiatrist may prescribe over-the-counter pain medication to relieve pain and swelling. Also, a heating pad or warm foot bath may ease pain or discomfort. Ice packs can also be used to relieve bunion pain.
Custom Orthotic Shoes for Bunions
If you’re lucky enough to catch your bunion early and there isn’t constant pain, switching to properly fitting, well made shoes may be a very smart change.
In addition to the shoes a podiatrist may recommending shoe inserts such as bunion splint, bunion pads, or another type of insert - as long as it does not cause pain elsewhere on the foot and worsen other foot problems.
In some cases a podiatrist may order a custom orthotic shoe with custom insoles and uppers to relieve pressure on the foot and joints to allow the foot to regain its proper shape.
When all other treatments do not adequately relieve bunion pain and the deformity continues to worsen, bunion surgery may be necessary. Bunion surgery should only be necessary when the integrity of the foot is at stake and the pain is unrelievable. Surgery should not be opted when just when you don’t like the look of the foot.
Your podiatrist will pick the best procedure to repair your bunion. The surgery is called a bunionectomy and can be done under local anesthesia, or under general anesthesia.
In bunion surgery the bones are realigned. In some cases the bone may need to be cute or shaved which is called an osteotomy. Wires and screws will likely be used to attached cut bones and keep the bone structure aligned properly through the healing process.
To learn more about bunion surgery, we will have a blog post up soon specifically about bunion surgery and you can click here to see it.
Should you call a Podiatrist?
If you’ve noticed your bunion deformity has gotten worse, or you are experiencing pain when walking in comfortable shoes you may want to schedule an appoint with a podiatrist. Reach out to Highland Podiatry Associates where Podiatrists Dr. Ryan Huntsman and Dr. Elie Elias will take the best care of your feet. With two highly convenient offices in Highland Heights and Sagamore Hills, suburbs of the greater Cleveland area, scheduling an appointment couldn’t be easier - call us at 440-473-0550 or click here to schedule now
*SOURCE: Arthritis Care & Research, news release, May 20, 2013