It is estimated that more than half the women in the United States have bunions. These bony bumps on the inside of your foot behind your big toe are unsightly, make it hard to find shoes that fit, and can become so painful that you have trouble walking normally. There are many factors that contribute to having bunions, including genetics, your foot type, the activities you engage in and the shoes you wear. Bunions tend to be progressive; the longer you have one, the worse it gets.
The Anatomy of a Bunion
Your foot type, either high-arched or flat-footed based on genetics, is the highest contributing factor to having bunions. The shoes you choose can accelerate the progression of the deformity when you take into consideration the way some people squeeze their feet into tight and ill-fitting shoes. Additionally, high-impact jobs that require standing for prolonged periods of time can also contribute to the progression of a bunion. Regardless of the cause, a bunion forms when the foot joint behind the big toe is subjected to excessive pressure, forcing the bone position to change and misallign. Over time the bone adapts to the excessive pressure caused by shoe friction and enlarges, creating a pressure spot that becomes red, swollen and painful. In more advanced bunions, the big toe shifts toward the second toe, making the deformity much larger.
Non-Surgical and Surgical Treatments Are Available
Once you have a bunion, you need to wear shoes that minimize the frictional pressure on the bone. Additionally, custom orthotics will also be necessary to compensate for the excessive pressure caused by the misaligned bones. For your convenience, you can find many attractive styles of shoes, sneakers and boots in our medical shoe store that still allow room for your toes and don’t force all your weight onto the balls of your feet. You should be able to wiggle your toes in the shoe, and heels below 2-1/2” tall will distribute your weight more evenly over your foot.
Many people have found orthotics to provide significant relief from the pain of bunions. We can fabricate custom orthotics that are specifically designed for your foot structure, providing support and correcting your gait problems. Good fitting shoes and custom orthotics provide the best, conservative alternative for patients suffering from bunion pain.
There are other non-surgical options that can temporarily relieve pain and swelling. We recommend icing the area for 10-20 minutes a few times a day. (Use a thin cloth between the ice and your foot.) Under the supervision of our highly skilled Country Foot Care doctors, the use of anti-inflammatory medication or pain relievers may provide temporary relief. Sometimes just taking the weight off and putting your feet up can relieve the symptoms. You can try gently massaging the area as well. Additionally, stretching your shoes and using bunion pads can also help.
If conservative treatments do not allow you to function normally or your bunion is too advanced, surgical treatment may be indicated. During bunion surgery, the enlarged parts of the bone are removed and the bones are then realigned into their proper position. As with all surgery, recovery varies from patient to patient.
The caring doctors at Country Foot Care are well versed in bunion correction and will guide you through the entire process should surgery be needed. To arrange for an appointment to be examined and assessed, you can either use the MAKE AN APPOINTMENT button in the top right corner of this page or you can contact one of our offices directly by phone during normal office hours.