A Bunion is one of the most common conditions treated by a Podiatrist. They are most frequently seen in women and can be caused by wearing narrow-toed, high heeled footwear, but are frequently an inherited trait.
In fact, podiatrists sometimes treat bunions in multiple generations of the same family.
A bunion is an abnormal, bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe. It’s caused when your big toe pushes up against your other toes, forcing the big toe joint in the opposite direction, away from the normal profile of your foot. Over time, the stress enlarges your big toe joint, pushing the big toe even further against your smaller toes and causing pain. Bunions frequently form in early adulthood and worsen with age, especially if accompanied by arthritis.
Who is most likely to develop a bunion?
You’re a good candidate for bunions if:
- Either of your parents had bunions
- You’re a woman (women have a 50% chance of getting bunions)
- You’re a woman who is or was a dancer
- You suffered a foot injury at any point in your life
- You wear tight, narrow, high heeled hoes
- You have arthritis in your feet
How do I know if I have a bunion?
Look at your feet. On a normal foot, the big toe should point straight ahead and you should be able to draw a relatively straight line from your heel to your big toe.
If you see a bump – an outgrowth – on the side of your foot just below the joint of the big toe, you most likely have a bunion forming. It’s probably pretty small if you just discovered it, but eventually this bump may enlarge, forcing the big toe towards the smaller toes. If so, you’ll begin to experience pain in your foot and the skin over the bump will become swollen or irritated from the pressure of your shoes. You may even see noticeable marks on the side of your shoes as the bunion wears through.
Another type of bunion is called a Tailor’s Bunion, also known as a Bunionette. This is a smaller bump that forms on the outside of the foot towards the joint at the little toe. A Tailor’s Bunion is created when the little toe moves inwards towards the big toe and is usually caused by footwear that is too tight.
How do I relieve bunion pain?
Bunion pain can be relieved by wearing wide shoes to reduce the force on your toes. You can also add padding on the inside of the shoe over the bunion area. At drug stores, you can find toe spacers that will separate the big toe from the second toe to keep them from rubbing. If the pain continues, or if the bunion becomes worse, surgery will be needed to straighten the toe and remove the bunion. This surgical procedure is called a bunionectomy.
When should I call a podiatrist about my bunion?
When you first notice a bunion, you should contact your podiatrist for an evaluation. He or she will make an initial diagnosis, monitor your condition and make recommendations for treatment. Initial treatments may include custom orthotics (inserts in your shoe which are custom formed to your foot), bunion splints, bunion regulators, bunion cushions, ice, and rest.
If your pain persists or the bunion enlarges, a bunionectomy may be required.
How do I reduce my chances of getting a bunion?
- Don’t force your feet into shoes that don’t fit
- Choose shoes that comfortably conform to the shape of your foot
- Choose shoes with wide insteps, broad toes and soft soles
- Do not wear shoes that are too tight or sharply pointed
- Do not wear shoes that have a heel higher than two inches
- See your podiatrist on a regular basis
If you suspect you have a bunion or are experiencing any kind of foot pain, make an appointment today with PA Foot And Ankle Associates for a thorough diagnosis.