Bunions are a common foot deformity, yet there are still several misconceptions about them. Because of these misconceptions, many people will suffer needlessly for years before seeking any kind of treatment. If you have bunions, please, don’t wait. Call on the friendly foot doctors at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle today.
What is a Bunion?
Bunions are often described as a bump on the side of the big toe, but they are a bit more complicated than that. A bunion, also known as hallux valgus or hallux abducto valgus, is a progressive disorder. It begins with a leaning of the big toe towards the second toe, which gradually changes the angle of the bones over the years. This slowly produces the characteristic “bump.” If the patient is going to experience any symptoms, they usually occur in the later stages of the disorder. Some patients may never experience any symptoms outside of the bump.
What Causes a Bunion?
A bunion is usually caused by an inherited faulty mechanical structure of the foot. However, the bunion is not what is inherited, it is certain foot types that make one more prone to developing bunions. Congenital foot deformities and foot injuries may also lead to the development of bunions.
Wearing shoes that crowd the toes will not cause bunions, but they may contribute to the progression of the deformity and make symptoms appear sooner.
There are several symptoms that may appear at the site of the bunion including:
- A large bump on the outside of the base of the big toe
- Redness, swelling, or soreness around the joint of the big toe
- Corns or calluses develop where the toes overlap
- Intermittent or persistent pain
- A burning sensation
- Restricted movement of the big toe, especially if one also suffers from arthritis
- Possible numbness
Women are more likely to experience symptoms than men, as the symptoms are most noticeable when one wears shoes that crowd the toes, such as high heels or a shoe with a tight toe box. Spending a lot of time on your feet can also aggravate the symptoms of bunions.
Bunions are very easy to identify due to the prominent bump at the base of the big toe. Depending on your specific situation, we may take x-rays to fully determine the degree of your deformity and thoroughly asses the changes that have occurred in your foot.
As we’ve stated, bunions are a progressive deformity. They do not go away, and become gradually worse over time. When it comes to bunions, however, not all cases are the same. Some bunions will progress more rapidly than others. After we have evaluated your bunion, we can create a treatment plan that is best suited to your needs.
There are several options to help treat the symptoms of bunions without surgery. However, the deformity cannot be reversed without surgical intervention.
Non-surgical treatments aimed at easing bunion pain include:
- Activity modifications. Avoid standing for extended periods of time.
- Change in footwear. Wear shoes that have a wide toe box. Avoid shoes that can aggravate the condition like high heels and pointed toes.
- To reduce inflammation and pain you can apply an ice pack several times a day.
- NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, are sometimes recommended to help with pain and inflammation.
- Pads that you place over the bunion can help reduce pain. These can be found at most drug stores.
- Orthotic devices. In some cases, we may prescribe a custom orthotic
Surgery may be recommended if the pain of a bunion is severe and/or interferes with daily activities. There are a few different options of surgical procedures available for bunion treatment. No single technique is best for every problem. If it is decided that surgery is your best option, we will perform a thorough examination of your foot and come up with an individual treatment plan based on the results.
The surgical procedures are designed to remove the bump of bone, and correct any changes in the bony structure and soft tissues of the foot that may have occurred. The main goal of bunion surgery is to reduce pain.
Surgical procedures for bunions might include:
- Removing the swollen tissue from around the toe joint
- Straightening the big toe by removing part of the bone
- Straightening out the abnormal angle in your big toe joint by realigning the long bone between the big toe and the back part of your foot.
- Joining the bones of your affected joint permanently
Recovery time can take weeks to months, depending on the severity of the deformity and the amount of work done. In order to prevent a recurrence, you will want to wear properly fitting shoes after recovery. We are happy to discuss further details on what to expect after a bunion surgery at the time of your appointment.
When you have foot or ankle problems – you don’t want just anyone. Call on the friendly experienced foot doctors at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle. We specialize in treating foot and ankle pain or injuries of all varieties.
Call (208) 855-5955 or request an appointment online.