A bunion is a bump on the outside of the big toe joint. It is a misalignment of the bones in the foot. The bump is noted where your big toe meets the rest of your foot. The bump and deformity can gradually get worse over time making it difficult finding comfortable shoe gear. It also can cause other toes to become deformed when you have a bunion for a long time. Bunions can occur at any age, starting in childhood. The misalignment can be genetically inherited, meaning someone in your family also had/has a bunion. Specific foot types can predispose you to having a bunion including flat feet which cause the joints to move out of their normal position. Wearing improperly fitting shoe gear can also contribute to a bunion deformity.
- Genetics - foot types are inherited and may predispose individuals to bunion development secondary to biomechanical abnormalities.
- Long term use of poorly fitting, inappropriate footwear.
- Joint instability.
- Neuromuscular conditions
- Rheumatologic disorders (i.e. inflammatory joint diseases)
- Congenital deformities
- Abnormal bump to the side of the foot, which can grow larger.
- Pain and tenderness at the bump or great toe.
- Stiffness or restricted motion at the great toe joint.
- Inflammation and redness.
- Painful pressure of the great toe against the adjacent or second toe.
- Callus or thickening of skin on the side of the foot or near the bunion.
- Pain and swelling that can affect how the big toe joint moves and how you walk.
Tips to Help Manage Bunion Pain:
- Purchase appropriately sized footwear, preferably those with a deep and wide toe box. Shop at a store with well trained staff that have the ability to correctly measure your feet. It is recommended to have your feet measured regularly.
- Avoid high heeled shoes - these will likely put more pressure against the bunion.
- Offload the pressure area: use of padding against the bunion is often helpful with pain relief. Make sure the pad is not so large as to cause the shoe to fit tighter, which may be painful.
- Inserts or custom orthotics can be used in shoe gear to help the foot function properly and can slow the progression of the deformity.
- Use of toe spacers may relieve pressure against the bunion as well as between the 1st and 2nd toes.
- Apply ice to any inflamed areas.
- If you are able to use over the counter pain medication, particularly nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, this may be helpful managing moderate pain. Speak with your podiatrist if pain lasts more than a few days.
If you find that you have a bunion which is causing you pain despite trying the above recommendations it is time to have an evaluation by a podiatrist. It is important not to ignore bunion pain, as it can result in other foot issues. Surgery is the only way to remove the bunion deformity. A thorough exam, evaluation and x-rays are performed to determine the proper procedure that is needed to correct each bunion. Surgery options can include minimally invasive correction, cutting and realigning bones while securing them with screws, plates, etc, or fusing two bones together to remove excess motion or arthritis that may have formed. These procedures all have a different recovery period and will be explained by your surgeon. Contact your local FASMA office to schedule an appointment with one of our highly trained specialists.
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Last updated: Dec 24, 2019 12:25 am