Pain, soreness and an ever-growing lump on the side of your foot, just below your big toe – specifically in the big toe joint – is a sure sign that you have a bunion, or you’re about to.
In medical terms, a bunion, known as hallux valgus, is a bony bump that forms around the joint at the base of your big toe. The bump is caused by the head of the first metatarsal bone behind the big toe angling out from your foot. This causes the toe joint to swell, pushing the big toe in towards the adjacent toes.
As the bump on the side of your foot enlarges, pain comes with it and the skin over the bump will become swollen or irritated from the pressure of your shoes. You may even see marks or bulges on the side of your shoe as the bunion tries to wear through. Adding to your headaches (or foot aches) are the fact that bunions are frequently accompanied by crossover toes, hammer toes, corns, calluses, and ingrown toenails.
What causes a bunion?
You inherit traits like flat feet, low arches, abnormal bone structure, or loose ligaments and tendons from your parents. These are biomechanical variations in your feet, outside of normal function. When combined with footwear like high heels, rigid shoes, pointy shoes, shoes that squeeze our toes together, shoes that don’t support our feet properly, careers that require a lot of time on our feet, pregnancy, or obesity, this weakness in our foot structure may lead to the formation of bunions.
How is a bunion treated?
First of all, bunions do not go away once formed – the bone has permanently shifted in the joint. If left untreated, it will only get worse. The good news is, modern surgical techniques offer faster recovery times and minimal to no pain, and no hospital stay is required.
Your podiatric surgeon will x-ray and then evaluate your bunion. As each case is different, there is no singular treatment for each patient. But without a doubt, the first thing your podiatric surgeon will recommend is for you to change your footwear and buy shoes which allow plenty of wiggle room for your toes: No heels or low heels and good arch support (a nice argument for wearing only athletic shoes if you can get away with it). This simple change in what you strap on your feet can relieve a substantial amount of pain from your bunions, as these better choices in shoes will cause less rubbing on the skin over the bony protrusion. Additionally, custom orthotics to be worn in-shoe will be suggested to shift your weight off of the sore area, and padding added between the bunion and the shoe. If you’re carrying too many pounds for your build, then weight management will also be recommended.
If these non-invasive treatments still leave you with considerable pain, then bunion surgery will be recommended.
For more information on bunions, visit our website which we like to call “all about bunions” – Bunion Center Of The LehighValley.