I’ve always been active. I love to hike, bike, and play tennis. But a few years ago, I started to develop pain in my feet. At first, it was just a dull ache, but it gradually got worse. I went to see a doctor, who diagnosed me with bunions.
Bunions are a common foot deformity that occurs when the big toe joint starts to move out of alignment. This can cause pain, swelling, and redness. In my case, the bunion was so bad that it was starting to affect my ability to walk and exercise.
The doctor recommended surgery to correct the bunion. I was hesitant at first, but I knew that it was the only way to get rid of the pain. The surgery was successful, and I’m now back to doing all the activities that I love.
If you’re suffering from bunions, don’t hesitate to see a doctor. Surgery may be the best way to get relief from pain and improve your quality of life.
What is a Bunion?
A bunion is a bump on the side of the big toe. It can also be called hallux valgus or hallux abducto valgus. But that’s not all a bunion is. The noticeable bump is caused by changes in the way the bones in the front of the foot are set up. The big toe doesn’t point straight ahead; instead, it leans toward the second toe. This moves the bones out of place, making the “bump” of the bunion.
Bunions are a chronic problem. They start with the big toe turning inward. Over time, the angle of the bones slowly changes, creating the typical bump, which gets bigger over time. Most of the time, signs don’t show up until later, but some people never have any.
Most of the time, bunions are caused by a problem with the way the foot is built. People with certain types of feet are more likely to get bunions. The bunion itself is not passed down.
Even though wearing shoes that are too tight on the toes doesn’t cause bunions, it can sometimes make them get worse over time. So, symptoms may show up sooner.
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Symptoms that show up at the bunion spot may include:
- It hurts or hurts.
- Getting red and inflamed
- A feeling of heat
- Possible numbness
Most of the time, symptoms show up when you wear shoes that crowd your toes, like shoes with a small toe box or high heels. This could be why women are more likely than guys to have signs. Also, being on your feet for long amounts of time can make the signs of bunions worse.
Bunions are easy to spot because the bump at the base of the big toe or on the side of the foot is easy to see. But in order to fully assess the situation, the foot and ankle surgeon may take x-rays to see how bad the injury is and how much it has changed.
Since bunions are continuous, they don’t go away and generally get worse over time. But not all bunions are the same, and some get worse faster than others. Once your surgeon has looked at your bunion, a treatment plan that fits your needs can be made.
Sometimes, all that needs to be done is to look at the bunion. Your surgeon should check up on the joint and take X-rays on a regular basis to make sure it doesn’t get hurt.
In many other cases, though, someone needs some kind of care. Early treatments for bunions are meant to ease the pain, but they won’t change the shape of the foot. These things are:
- Changes in shoewear. It’s very important to wear the right shoes. Choose shoes with a big toe box and avoid shoes with sharp toes or high heels, which can make the problem worse.
- Padding. Putting pads on the area where the bunion is can help lessen the pain. You can get these from your doctor or buy them at a pharmacy.
- Activity modifications. Stay away from things that hurt your bunion, like standing for long amounts of time.
- Medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, which are taken by mouth, may be suggested to reduce pain and swelling.
- Icing. Using an ice pack multiple times a day can help reduce swelling and pain.
- Injection therapy. Corticosteroid shots may help treat the swollen bursa (a fluid-filled sac around a joint) that sometimes happens with bunions, but this isn’t done very often.
- Orthotic devices. In some cases, the foot and ankle expert may give you artificial devices that are made just for you.
When Is Surgery Needed?
If non-surgery treatments don’t help with bunion pain and the pain gets in the way of daily life, it’s time to talk to a foot and ankle expert about medical choices. You can decide together if surgery is the best thing for you.
Bunions can be fixed in a number of ways through surgery. The treatments are meant to get rid of the “bump” of bone, fix the changes in the foot’s bone structure, and fix any changes that may have happened to the soft tissues. The purpose of surgery is to relieve pain.
The foot and ankle surgeon will choose the right treatment or mix of procedures for you based on how bad your disability is, your age, how active you are, and other factors. How long it takes to get better depends on what treatment or operations were done.