Bunions are a common foot condition that is not only unsightly, but can be incredibly uncomfortable. Having bunions can make it difficult to shop for shoes, enjoy physical activity, and can be a source of embarrassment for some people. Because the development of bunions is gradual, it’s not uncommon for individuals to suffer for several months or even years before seeking treatment. If this sounds like you, we’re here to help!
What are Bunions?
Bunions are essentially a bony bump at the base of the big toe on the joint area. The lump develops when the tip of the big toe is pulled towards the direction of the smaller toes, which in turn forces the joint at the base of the big toe to stick out. The change in the shape of the foot can impact your ability to purchase proper shoes or, in some cases, walk correctly.
Understanding the common causes of bunions may help patients learn how their bunions originated or, in some cases, help people avoid them altogether.
Stress and injuries on the foot: Strenuous daily activities that result in foot wounds or swelling can eventually lead to the development of a bunion.
Footwear: While shoes don’t exactly cause bunions, wearing tight shoes can make bunions worse and develop faster.
Birth deformities: Children are rarely born with a bunion or develop them later in childhood. However, certain foot deformities at birth, such as clubfoot, can cause bunions.
Bunion Risk Factors
If you’re concerned about the likelihood that you’ll develop bunions in your lifetime, there are certain behaviors or risk factors to keep in mind. Risk factors for bunions include:
Overpronation, i.e., when the toe joint is unstable due to uneven weight-bearing in the foot and tendon
When the patient has a big toe with hypermobility
Conditions that affect nerves and muscles, such as polio
Bunion Signs and Symptoms
The telltale sign of a bunion is the visible lump that develops on the side of the foot. However, a few other signs and symptoms may indicate early warning signs that bunions are in your future. Some signs and symptoms to watch out for:
Swelling or redness around the joint of the big toe
Corns or calluses that develop in the area where the first and second toes rub against each other
While bunions are bothersome, many people assume that they aren’t usually a serious condition. However, bunions can lead to other issues. These conditions include:
Bursitis: Fluid-filled sacs between the bones and tendons
Metatarsalgia: The metatarsals are in constant pain
Arthritis: The tissues around affected joints cause irritation and discomfort or pain
Bunion Treatment Options
Depending on the severity of the condition, surgical and nonsurgical treatment options are available to provide bunion relief.
Placing ice on your bunion can help ease soreness and swelling. However, ensure you do not place ice directly on your skin, and never for longer than 20 minutes. If you have circulation problems, consult with Dr. Joshi before applying ice.
Wear comfortable shoes that provide adequate space for your toes. Consider a professional shoe fitting to ensure that you have the right fit for your feet. Avoid shoes that pinch.
If home remedy treatments aren’t enough, then your bunions may be serious enough for medication. Common medication options include:
Cortisone Injections: Used for reducing swelling, especially fluid-filled sacs (Bursitis).
Pain Relief Medications: Used for minimizing the pain associated with the bunion, e.g., Ibuprofen.
In some instances, bunions cause so much pain and foot immobility that surgery is the recommended treatment. Common surgery options for bunions include:
Osteotomy: A corrective procedure to realign the joint using pins and screws to fix the bone.
Arthrodesis: A procedure to remove the swollen joint surface.
Resection arthroplasty: A procedure to remove the damaged portion of bone and provide more space between the toes. However, this treatment is usually reserved for older adults and extreme cases.
Tendon and ligament repair: This procedure involves lengthening the toe and shortening weak toe tissues and is usually performed alongside an osteotomy.
Exostectomy: The surgeon removes the bump on the toe joint.
Bunions are a common foot condition that many people experience throughout their life. If you are suffering from the pain and discomfort of bunions, please contact our office. At Advanced Foot Care of NJ, LLC, Dr. Joshi and his staff are dedicated to providing patients with a personalized treatment plan that suits our patient’s specific needs. We look forward to hearing from you!