Ever been from a jog with your friends and noticed that your friend’s feet have a bony bump at the base of both big toes? If so, then you probably have an idea of what a bunion is. Put simply, a bunion is a condition in which the base of your great toe swells up and pushes against the next toe causing your skin to be sore and painful in some cases. While the exact cause of bunions has not been nailed, preventive measures for the condition exist in abundance. However, before delving into what you can do about them, it would be a good idea to first understand how they may come about and why many people consider them a bummer.
Are All Angled Big Toes A Sign Of Bunions?
Certainly not. Bunions have some distinctive features such as inflammation of the skin surrounding the big toe and mild to moderate pain especially when you’ve worn shoes. It is also worth noting that the pain does not originate from the bunion itself, but from the swelling around it. Common symptoms of bunions include:
- The obvious bump at the base of your big toe
- Intermittent pain that may or may not be consistent
- Swelling around the same big toe
- Low degrees of movement for the big toe especially if you are suffering from arthritis
- Calluses which form on the areas where the toes overlap
How Does Someone Develop Bunions?
As stated earlier, the exact cause of bunions is still unknown. However, there are theories that try to explain how bunions could develop. At the time of writing, bunions were greatly attributed to:
- Foot injuries
- Hereditary factors
- Deformities you may have experienced at birth
In addition to the causes above, some experts are still of the opinion that tight or high-heeled shoes could also cause bunions. On the other hand, others insist that wearing narrow shoes or uncomfortable footwear will only contribute to bunion development.
On the same topic of bunion development, it is also wise to know about the risk factors associated with the condition. If you happen to notice signs and symptoms of bunion development, you should consider the following because they greatly increase the risk of bunions.
- Wearing high heel shoes which chokes the toes on the front of your shoes
- Rheumatoid arthritis will equally make you more susceptible to bunions even more
- Wearing shoes that do not fit you or are too narrow and tight
Treatment is far different from curing bunions. In the real sense, there is no real treatment for bunions because it is a condition. However, there are procedures that could be used to restore the foot to its former normal state. The first thing your podiatrist will probably do is discuss with you the right kind of shoes to be wearing. He/she will be more concerned about alleviating the pain on the initial stages rather than dealing with the actual bump. Properly fitting shoes is usually the first solution for bunions. While the pain can be relived by intake of Over-The-Counter drugs, doctors will also recommend bunion sleeves to cushion your toes for protection. They will also recommend putting your feet up and occasionally applying an ice pack on the swollen bunion. Of course, this will only deal with the immediate pain but not the recurrent pain.
There are equally other ways of reducing the discomfort such as:
- Maintaining a normal weight
- Wearing a splint at night to keep the affected toe straight and ease the pain
For treatment of recurrent pain, you would have to consider a bunion surgery which will do more than just stop the pain, but also result in the straightening of the great toe. Doctors normally recommend surgery if the pain resulting from bunion development begins to interfere with normal activities in your day such as walking. This is also a widely considered option if doctors foresee future complications that come as a result of the bunions. They believe that bunions could result in other foot complications like:
- Hammertoes – This is a condition where you have an abnormal bend occurring in the middle joint of one of your toes.
- Bursitis – A condition that occurs when bursae becomes inflamed
- Metatarsalgia – A condition where you experience pain and discomfort in the ball of your foot probably due to straining with bunions
Surgery Options For Bunions
As it is the last resort for anyone who has experienced discomfort from the condition, podiatrists have up to 4 different types of surgeries that can address the issue. They usually consider things such as:
- If you have arthritis or not
- The severity of your condition at the time you are seeking surgical help
- The shape of your foot
- The level of damage your joint has experienced
- Your general health
While the procedures are not major and only make you spend a day in the hospital, the considerations above help podiatrists know exactly how to tackle your problem. They will then choose one of the four surgical options below:
- Fusing the joint (arthrodesis) to limit the joint’s movement capabilities and thus reducing pain
- Replacing the entire joint at the great toe with an artificial one
- Cutting away the bony bump to ultimately reduce its size (scarf ostomy)
- Paring away parts of the joint to temporarily reduce the swelling
All in all, the biggest issue about bunions is mostly the pain it causes. Because of this, procedures that address bunions are typically meant to reduce the pain and the recurrence of the bunions. Reduction of pain also reduces chances of infection to the toe as it is greatly vulnerable to infections when you are suffering from bunions. Ultimately, however, wearing well-fitting shoes is a sure way to ensure that you do not develop the condition or increase the chances of its development.