What Are Bunions

Our feet bear the brunt of everything: They carry our entire body weight, endure uncomfortable shoes, and long periods of standing, walking, or running. They sometimes get stepped on, get things dropped on them, and have to bear the awful pain that comes with stubbing your toe against a piece of furniture.

It’s no wonder they don’t always look magazine worthy. But sometimes, in addition to regular signs of wear and tear, people can get unusual bumps. This is the case with bunions. They are unsightly, uncomfortable, and can make wearing regular shoes a painful experience. But what exactly are they, and how do they form in the first place?

What Are Bunions?

Bunions are bony protrusions that occur when the big or small toe to pushes against the other toes causing that toe joint to enlarge and stick out. It causes the bones in the foot to become misaligned, resulting in a  bony bump on the side of the foot.

They typically appear at the base of the big toe, although in rare instances, they can appear at the base of the smallest toe. The more a toe leans in or out towards the rest of the toes, the bigger the bunion can become.

They typically occur in adults and sometimes during the teenage years.

Symptoms of Bunions

Signs of bunions are hard to miss:

  • Big or small toe leans towards the rest of the toes
  • Thickened skin at the base of the misaligned toe
  • Bony protrusion at the base of the toe joint
  • Protrusion sometimes swells
  • The protrusion feels warm to the touch
  • Numbness around the toe joint
  • Redness around the toe joint
  • Decreased mobility of the affected toe

Causes and Risk Factors of Bunions

Bunions occur more frequently in women. This is not particularly surprising, considering that fashion choices relating to footwear often place a lot of stress on the toes. Other causes include:

Diagnosis of Bunions

Your doctor will be able to diagnose a bunion by examining your feet. While a bunion may be obvious in plain view, a medical provider may also move the patient’s toes to determine whether there’s a restriction in range of motion. In more extreme cases, your doctor may recommend x-rays or an MRI to determine whether the deformity has affected other bones in the foot.

Treatment of Bunions

There are several conservative treatments that can ease the discomfort associated with bunions. Depending on the severity of the condition, the doctor may recommend wearing orthotics, steroid injections, using toe separators when you’re at home, modifying shoewear, icing the area, and resting.

If conservative treatment doesn’t work, and bunions are causing severe foot deformity and restricting everyday activities such as simply walking or wearing regular shoes, the patient may be a candidate for surgery.

Prevention of Bunions

Bunions develop over time, so the best thing you can do to prevent them is to wear appropriate shoes:

  1. Make sure shoes are the correct size
  2. Avoid regularly wearing high heels
  3. Avoid regularly wearing shoes with pointed toes
  4. Have a gait test to determine whether you’re an overpronator
  5. If you overpronate, purchase and wear stability shoes regularly

Request an Appointment at The Orthopedic Clinic Today

At The Orthopedic Clinic, we want you to live your life in full motion. If you are suffering from bunions, let us help you. We’ll tailor a treatment plan that’s best for your lifestyle and get you back to doing the things you love.

Contact us to schedule an appointment.

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