Bunions are progressive foot deformities that are fairly recognizable once they get going. The tell-tale sign is a big toe that starts leaning out toward the smaller toes. It’s a painful condition that will only get more debilitating with time. But if we can diagnose it early, in most cases we can slow the progression. So don’t put off calling for an appointment.
While the obvious sign is a big toe trying to get cozy with the second toe, there’s more to it than that. Bunions form when the joints at the ball of the foot become misaligned and reposition themselves, which throws the big toe out of alignment. The big toe starts to lean, and a bump starts to protrude outward from the joint where the big toe meets the foot. Sometimes the bump will become inflamed, tender to the touch and painful, adding even more discomfort.
Both traits make it very uncomfortable to wear shoes. In fact, many of our bunion patients come through the door wearing flip flops, which gets a bit chilly in the winter.
There’s also a less common type of bunion called a tailor’s bunion, which occurs on the other side of the foot at the base of the baby toe.
Who gets bunions? Women are 10 times more likely than men. Sometimes bunions are inherited, but they have also been linked with tight, narrow and high-heeled shoes as well as ballet shoes. We frequently see them with patients that suffer from rheumatoid arthritis or who have had certain types of injuries to the foot. It’s a myth that bunions only happen to the elderly — we’ve seen many patients in their 20s and 30s, and sometimes even kids with bunions.
Many patients won’t realize they have bunions until they start to notice the deformity. The first sign is pain when walking or wearing shoes, especially if it’s at the base of the big toe. If you’re experiencing pain in this area or it hurts to walk or put on shoes, call our office for an appointment.
When you come into the office, we’ll carefully examine your foot and may take x-rays to get a better view of how the toes are aligned. This can help us rule out other conditions like arthritis and gout that could contribute to a painful big toe. If the culprit is a forming bunion, we have several options for treatment, which may include:
- · Changing the type of shoes you wear
- · Prescribing anti-inflammatory medications
- · Injecting cortisone to reduce inflammation
- · Applying a cold pack to relieve pain and inflammation
- · Orthotics such as bunion splints or custom insoles to support and reposition the joints
For more advanced bunions, surgery may be necessary to remove the bony bump and put the big toe back in alignment. In these cases, we can discuss the proper procedure for your foot.
Whether you are just starting to feel that pain in your big toe or you have well advanced bunions, it’s important to see a doctor to stop the progression of this painful condition to avoid further deformity. Call our office to make an appointment.