Overview of Bunions
Bunions are a common and painful foot problem that mostly affects women. A bunion will form on a foot when the big toe becomes misaligned and leans towards the smaller toes. The joint at the base of the big toe becomes enlarged to compensate for the big toe leaning inward. This causes the big toe to become further misaligned causing the patient pain and discomfort.
Symptoms of a bunion include restricted movement of the big toe, a bump on the base of the affected toe, swelling, redness, soreness and thickening of the skin around the big toe. Also, wearing shoes and walking may become painful.
Although a bunion typically forms on the inside of the foot, it can develop on the outside area too. A bunion that forms on the outside of the foot will form on the joint at the base of the pinky toe.
Bunions can develop for a number of reasons. The most common causes of a bunion are wearing ill fitting shoes that are too tight or too small and wearing high heels for extended periods of time. Other reasons are inherited structural defect and arthritis.
Nonsurgical treatments that a patient can do at home is to use padding or tape on the affected foot to fix the alignment of the toes. This can also help alleviate pain and discomfort. Take over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen as directed for pain. Use padded shoe inserts from a drugstore to help distribute pressure evenly and reduce pain.
If the latter does not take the pain and discomfort away, then surgery may be another option. Most surgical procedures involve:
- Removal of the swollen tissue surrounding the big toe joint
- Removing bone to straighten the big toe
- Permanently joining the bones of the affected joint
There are a few preventative measures individual can take to prevent bunions from forming:
- Wear shoes that fit properly
- Wear shoes that are wide enough
- Avoid wearing high heels
- Remove shoes when at home or sitting at work
- Relieve pressure from the feet by soaking them or getting a foot massage regularly