What is a Bunion?
A bunion is a bony growth that most commonly affects the inner foot at the base of the big toe. However, it can also affect the outside of the foot at the base of the little toe (Tailor's Bunion). Bunions typically affect women more than men - some claim this is because of poor fitting shoes, like high-heels. They can be painful or not, and there are several treatment options to address bunions.
How do they form?
Bunions form as a result of the realignment of the joint at the base of the toe. The base will begin to point outward and rotate the front of the toe in, toward the smaller toes. The enlarged joint at the base of the toe can become inflamed with redness, tenderness, and pain. Because it is a progressive deformity, it can also lead to a deeper joint pain if localized arthritis develops in the later stages.
While the exact cause of bunion formation is unknown, some factors may include:
Genetics (inherited foot type)
Deformities present at birth (congenital)
Tight, high-heel, or narrow shoes do contribute to bunion development, but it is uncertain whether they can be a direct cause
Different forms of arthritis (Rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis, gout)
To treat bunions without surgery, it is best to first address your footwear. Be sure to wear wide shoes and/or sandals (ideally with a supportive sole) to reduce inflammation caused by constant pressure and friction experienced with poor-fitting shoes. Another option is to try and reduce inflammation with anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen. In addition to these medications, a simple cold-pack applied to the area can be helpful.
Bunion shields or pads are an inexpensive way to reduce pressure and friction on the bunion. Custom orthotics can help to slow the progression of the bunion while also addressing underlying biomechanical issues that put pressure on the bunion, such as over-pronation (flat feet).
If these conservative treatments fail, and chronic pain persists, surgery may be the best option.
When to see a Podiatrist (DPM)?
Although there are conservative treatment options for bunions, it's best to see a Podiatrist if you have:
Persistent big toe or foot pain
A visible bump on your big toe joint
Decreased movement of your big toe or foot
Difficulty finding shoes that fit properly because of a bunion
To schedule an appointment at one of our five clinics in and around the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, please call (612) 788-8778 or request an appointment date/time here.
If you would like to purchase bunion shields or bunion pads, check out inhss.easydme.com or ask about them during your next visit.