What is a Bunion?
A bunion is a painful lump on the joint at the base of the big toe (the metatarsophalangeal – or “MTP”- joint) which forms when the bone or tissue at the joint moves out of place. Bunions are often caused by the way you walk, your inherited foot type, or shoes that put abnormal pressure over the MTP joint. Bunions tend to run in families due to the passing of problematic foot types from parent to child. Other causes include foot injuries, neuromuscular disorders, and congenital deformities such as flat feet or clubfoot. A bunion can also occur on the outside of the foot at the joint of the little toe; this is called a “bunionette” or “tailor’s bunion”.
Symptoms of Bunions
Symptoms of a bunion include:
- Development of a firm bump on the outside edge of the foot at the base of the big toe.
- Redness, swelling, or pain at or near the MTP joint.
- Restricted or painful motion of the big toe.
- Corns or irritation caused by the overlap of the first and second toes.
- Development of calluses or hammertoes under the ball of the foot.
How to Relieve Bunion Pain
- Apply a non-medicated bunion pad to the area.
- Apply a toe separator between the big toe and second toe.
- Wear shoes with a deep and wide toe box. (Avoid heels higher than 2 inches)
- If inflammation occurs, apply ice packs to reduce swelling.
Bunion Treatment Options
Treatment options vary depending on the type and severity of the bunion. Early treatment is important to stop progression and avoid surgery.
- Padding/taping of the bunion to keep the foot in a normal position and minimize pain.
- Medication such as anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone injections.
- Physical therapy to provide relief of pain and inflammation.
- Orthotics to control foot function and prevent the bunion from worsening.
- Podiatric surgery to relieve pressure and repair the joint. Less severe bunions can be corrected with a simple procedure, called a bunionectomy, in which only the bony lump is removed. Severe bunions may require a more extensive procedure which involves cutting the bone and realigning the joint.
Recovering from Bunion Surgery
Swelling and discomfort typically lasts 6-8 weeks following bunion surgery, however, pain can be managed using medication prescribed by your podiatrist. It is extremely important to stay off your feet as much as possible and follow all postoperative instructions to ensure a smooth and speedy recovery.
Due to the nature of the causes, it’s not always possible to completely prevent bunions. Fortunately, wearing the right shoes can help.
- Avoid shoes with a narrow toe box.
- If you have flat feet, wear supportive shoes or talk to your podiatrist about custom orthotics.
When to Visit a Podiatrist
Be sure to visit your podiatrist at the first sign of bunion development. If left untreated, a bunion will continue to worsen until non-surgical treatment is no longer an option.
Here at Podiatry Associates, we will help you determine the best possible treatment option to provide the relief you need. Contact us today!
Your podiatric physician/surgeon has been trained specifically and extensively in the diagnosis and treatment of all manner of foot conditions. This training encompasses all of the intricately related systems and structures of the foot and lower leg including neurological, circulatory, skin, and the musculoskeletal system, which includes bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves.
The information on this page is provided by The American Podiatric Medical Association.