When the big toe of one foot consistently presses too hard against the toe directly next to it, something called a bunion can form. A bunion is an overgrowth of bone on the big toe joint, which can cause a visible and often painful or sore protrusion on the side of the foot.
Though the exact cause of bunion development is not precisely known and is still under study, some factors put a person at higher risk of developing one. Something that can contribute to bunion development is the constant wearing of shoes that are too narrow or don’t fit properly. Anytime the toes are forced into crowding each other inside a shoe, the risk of bunion development can increase. Bunions can also develop from a genetic structural defect in the foot, other stressors to the foot or from arthritic conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Not all bunions require treatment. But when they do, it is essential to see a doctor who specializes in conditions that affect the foot. A visit to the doctor is in order when you’re experiencing pain in your big toe or foot as a result of the bunion if you have a visible bump on the toe joint, difficulty with movement of your big toe or foot, or trouble with finding properly-fitting shoes that don’t cause pain.
Your doctor can usually identify a bunion by a physical examination of your foot. Once a bunion is suspected, an X-ray can help determine the extent and severity of the bunion.
Some non-surgical treatments can help with bunion pain and symptom relief. These include:
- Wearing proper footwear that is roomy and comfortable.
- Over-the-counter bunion “cushions” that are available in most drug stores can reduce the pain and stress of external pressure on the bunion.
- Some medications, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can provide temporary pain relief.
- In some cases, cortisone injections may also provide a period of bunion pain relief.
- Ice and rest can help alleviate bunion pain if you’ve been on your feet for a long time.
- Shoe inserts, commonly referred to by medical providers as orthotics, can help the foot more evenly distribute its weight and pressure while inside a shoe, helping to reduce the stress on painful bunions.
Dr. Haupt performs the 3D Correction of Bunion Deformities using state-of-the-art procedure Lapiplasty technique.
- A protruding bulge outside of the foot, at the base of the big toe.
- Redness, tenderness or swelling around the joint of the big toe.
- Difficulty with moving the big toe properly, especially if it is affected by arthritis.
While the above measures can be effective conservative treatment options for temporary bunion pain relief, at this time, the only treatment to eliminate a bunion is surgery. When the pain from a bunion is not adequately relieved by non-surgical treatments, or it begins to interfere with activities of daily living, bunion surgery may be necessary. There are a variety of surgical procedures used to remove bunions, and your doctor is the best person to know which is right for your situation.
Bunion surgery can involve removal of swollen tissue from around the big toe joint, removal of the bony protrusion, straightening the big toe or realigning bones to normalize the angle of the big toe. In extreme cases, a fusion of the affected toe joint may be in order.
Depending on the type and extent of the surgery involved in removing a bunion, recovery can take time and may include a period of non-weight-bearing activity for the affected foot as well as physical therapy. After surgery, to prevent bunion recurrence, it is also important to wear properly fitted footwear.
If you or someone you know is dealing with the effects of a painful bunion, contact us today. With a breadth of experience in bunion treatment, Dr. Haupt and his expert team are here to help.