Bunions are common foot deformities that can form at any age. They are the result of misaligned bones in the foot.
Sometimes, an individual’s big toe moves inward or toward the other toes. When this happens, a bunion can form at the base of the big toe joint, on the outer edge of the foot. This joint, called the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint, supports most of the body’s weight when we walk. For this reason, a bunion can be very painful and can even make wearing shoes extremely uncomfortable.
It’s also possible for a lump to develop on the outer, smallest toe. In this case, the bump is referred to as a “tailor’s bunion” or “bunionette.”
Symptoms of Bunions
- Redness, swelling, and/or pain of the big toe joint or smallest toe joint
- A lump at the base of the big toe or on the smallest toe, on the outer edge of the foot
- Limited movement of the big toe
- Pain when moving the big toe
- Irritation that may lead to corns or calluses, due to the big toe overlapping the second toe
If symptoms persist and your pain gets worse, make an appointment with a podiatric surgeon. Bunions are progressive, and if not treated early, they may require surgical intervention to be corrected.
Causes of Bunions
- Inherited foot type and structure
- Injuries to the foot
- Structural abnormalities of the foot
What to Expect at Your Appointment
During your appointment, your doctor will first examine your foot for symptoms of a bunion. If symptoms of a bunion are present, you may be asked to get an X-ray image of your foot to uncover any abnormalities in the bone structure and to confirm the diagnosis.
Non-surgical Treatments for Bunions
Your podiatrist will determine which treatment is best for you depending on your age, the severity of symptoms, the results from an x-ray exam, and other factors.
If symptoms are mild, your doctor may recommend conservative treatment options to relieve symptoms such as: Wearing more comfortable, wider shoes Placing a pad or a shield on the bunion to reduce friction Orthotics that correct the malformation of the foot Anti-inflammatory medication to help reduce pain and swelling
Surgical Treatment for Bunions and Post-treatment
If symptoms are severe and pain persists, surgical correction of the bunion may be necessary. Bunion surgery is used to straighten the bones that are causing the bunion, remove the bunion, reduce pain, and increase the toe’s mobility and function.
Recovery from bunion surgery can take up to several weeks. During this time, your doctor may recommend that you rest your foot and use a special shoe or boot to protect the operated area. At first, you may need crutches before you can start to gradually put weight on your foot.
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