In simple terms, a bunion is a bony bump along the inside of your foot—next to big toe—that can cause extreme discomfort and keep you from wearing your favorite pair of shoes. This condition is usually aggravated by ill-fitting footwear and affects more than 30% of Americans today.
A bunion is a partial dislocation of the great (big) toe at its base joint, which tends to worsen over time. The tip of the big toe slowly moves further and further in the direction of the smaller toes. At the same time, the end of the first metatarsal at the base of the toe becomes more prominent, creating an obvious “bump” on the inside of the foot.
Some of the most common symptoms include increased pain, localized swelling and redness, and stiffness in the joint. You may also feel a burning sensation due to shoes pushing against one of the nerves in the area around the bony prominence.
In serious cases, large bunions may require surgery to remove them.
But the good news is that our medical professionals here at Waco Foot & Ankle are specialized in helping you overcome your foot problems—from bunions to sports injuries—so that you can you can go back to living active, busy lives without pain!
What Causes Bunions?
Some of the most common causes for bunions are listed below:
- Heredity. In other words, bunions tend to run in families. Some people may inherit feet that are more likely to develop bunions due to their shape and structure.
- Abnormal mechanical function of the foot. This can be a major potential cause as well, along with trauma.
- Poor fitting shoes. Shoes with a narrow, pointed toe box that forces the toes into an unnatural position should be avoided.
- Statistically speaking, women are more likely to develop bunions than men. This is mostly a result of wearing ill-fitting shoes that are narrower in the toe box.
As the bunion progresses, it can sometimes lead to other deformities, such as hammertoes.
What are the Symptoms?
In addition to the visible bump on the side of the foot, there are also other signs you should look for whenever bunions are a concern. Check the list below:
- Pain and tenderness.
- Redness and inflammation.
- A callus or corn on the bump.
- Hardened skin on the bottom of the foot.
- Stiffness and restricted motion in the big toe, which may lead to difficulty in walking.
Therefore, the best way to prevent bunion pain and further inflammation is to opt for the right shoes and socks. You should always look for shoes with a wide toe box, wide instep, and soft soles that have a smooth surface in the bunion area.
Keep in mind that you don’t want your foot moving too much within the shoe as this may cause painful friction on the bunion. However, it should be wide enough to fit comfortably. Shoes made from stretchy material are often more comfortable.
If you suspect you have developed a bunion, you should seek medical treatment before the situation gets out of hand. When bunions are treated from an early stage, it tends to be much simpler in taking the necessary treatment steps for both you and doctor.
Treatment for Bunions
During your initial appointment, we’ll obtain an appropriate history and perform a physical examination. This also includes evaluating your foot function (biomechanics) and various foot x-rays. This helps us build an effective treatment plan personalized to fit your specific situation.
Based on the results of your examination, some conservative treatments may be recommended, such as:
- Shoe modifications. In many cases, bunion pain can be managed successfully by simply switching to shoes that fit properly and do not compress the toes.
- Foot padding. Protective “bunion-shield” pads can help cushion the painful area over the bunion. These pads can be purchased at a drugstore or pharmacy.
- Applying ice several times a day for 20 minutes at a time can help reduce swelling. However, you should never apply ice directly on your skin. Use a towel for protection.
- Anti-inflammatory medications. Ibuprofen and naproxen can help relieve pain and reduce swelling. Only take as directed.
- Custom orthotics. To take pressure off your bunion, we may recommend that you wear custom orthotics.
- In some cases, a splint worn at night that places your big toe in a straighter position may also help relieve pain.
Although these modalities will not permanently realign the joint, since they don’t fundamentally change the structure of your feet, they can diminish or altogether eliminate painful symptoms.
However, for a more severe bunion, we may discuss and recommend surgical treatment. A wide variety of surgical procedures are available and will be selected based on the type and extent of the deformity. Surgery may be performed outpatient at our office, rather than in a hospital or surgical center.
When Is Bunion Surgery Needed?
Of course, our goal is to avoid surgery as much as possible. However, we understand that there are cases where the best option is, indeed, to perform surgery. So, we may recommend surgery to correct your bunion if you still have pain and difficulty walking despite changes in footwear and other nonsurgical treatments.
The bunion surgery will realign the bone, ligaments, and tendons, so that the big toe can be brought back to its correct position. These are procedures that are performed in an out-patient setting with no hospital stay.
Contact Us Today!
Don’t let bunions run your life! Let our team of medical professionals at Waco Foot & Ankle help you get back on your feet quickly and safely. To schedule your appointment, simply give us a call today at (254) 776-6995 or fill out our handy request form online.
MON - THU | 8:00am - 5:00pm
FRI | 8:00am - 4:00pm
201 Colonnade Parkway, Suite #100
Woodway, TX 76712