Summer’s nearly here and that means time to bring out the sandals and open-toed shoes, but for some of us, bunions make the possibility of wearing such shoes an embarrassing proposition. Bunions form when the bone or tissue at the joint at the bottom of the big toe moves out of place. This is caused by years of abnormal motion and pressure on the joint that forces the big toe to bend toward the others, causing an often-painful lump on the joint. As this joint carries much of your weight while walking, bunions can cause severe and constant pain, to the point that shoes may be too painful to wear. What makes bunions even more painful is that they often occur on both feet, making walking and standing incredibly painful indeed.
The signs and symptoms of a bunion include:
- A bulging bump on the outside of the base of your big toe
- Swelling, redness or soreness around your big toe joint
- Corns or calluses — these often develop where the first and second toes overlap
- Persistent or intermittent pain
- Restricted movement of your big toe if arthritis affects the toe
Most bunions are caused due to genetics and shoes, especially ill-fitting ones or ones that make the foot move unnaturally like, high heels. Bunions are also likely to occur if the person is already suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
How to treat bunions
All bunions are permanent unless surgically corrected. But here are a few measures one can take to slow a bunion’s progression and relieve the pain and pressure on the toe joint:
- Maintain a normal weight.
- Protect the bunion with a moleskin or gel-filled pad or Vissco Metatarsal Cushion Silicon Support.
- Use shoe inserts like Vissco silicone insoles. to help position the foot correctly. These can be over-the-counter arch supports or prescription orthotic devices.
- Wear a splint at night to hold the toe straight and ease discomfort.
- Take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.
- Use warm soaks, ice packs, Whirlpool, ultrasound, and massage.
- Buy well-fitting footwear that is wide in the toe area. Square toes are preferable but round will also do.
When to consider surgery for your bunion
In severe cases or in cases where the pain is unbearable, the only solution your podiatrist may recommend is surgery. Most podiatrists agree that the time to consider surgery is when you’ve felt pain for at least a year. Another reason why doctors recommend surgery is because bunions can give rise to other painful foot complications, such as hammertoes, bursitis, a bunion below the little toe, or pain in the balls of your feet. Surgery can be done on mild or severe cases. Surgery is done to return the big toe to its correct position and remove the bump. Bunion pain may feel like the end of the world, but it doesn’t have to be so, the right shoes, orthotics, and care can ensure your bunion is but a small bump in your normal life.