Have you noticed a bony bump develop on the inside of your foot by your big toe? Is it starting to become painful when you walk? You may have a bunion. Early recognition and treatment of the problem can prevent more severe issues from developing down the road.
So what exactly is a bunion? What treatment options are available? Use this guide to better understand what a bunion actually is and what you can do about it.
To understand a bunion, let’s first take a look at your feet. We often take our feet for granted. However, did you know that almost one-fourth of your body’s bones are in the feet? Each foot contains 28 bones. In addition, there are over 30 joints and one hundred soft tissues in your feet, including muscles, ligaments, and tendons. This intricate system plays a huge role in your balance, support, and mobility. Considering how much you use your feet every day, it is no wonder that many people are prone to foot problems like bunions.
A bunion, also known as hallux valgus, develops near the big toe. Specifically, at the metatarsophalangeal joint (MTP) located where the long bone of the foot (the metatarsal) meets the first bone of the big toe (the phalanx). Bunions occur when the MTP joint moves out of alignment. As a result, the big toe pushes against the toe next to it. Over time, the MTP joint gets bigger and starts to stick out. This causes inflammation in the joint, making the area appear red and swollen.
Some people experience a similar condition near the little toe known as a “tailor’s bunion” or bunionette. Like a bunion, a bunionette involves misalignment with the joint that connects the foot bone to the little toe. In addition, younger people, mainly girls between the ages of 10 and 15, can develop a condition known as adolescent bunion.
The exact cause of bunions is unknown. There are some risk factors, however, common among those who suffer from a bunion. They include:
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One of the most notable symptoms of a bunion is a foot deformity. Mainly, the MTP joint begins to shift toward the inside of the foot. As a result, the big toe starts to point inward, toward the second toe. The shift usually starts out small, but becomes worse as the MTP joint continues to move out of alignment. An advanced bunion may result in the big toe deformity becoming angled all the way over or under the second toe. As you could probably guess, this could be a source of great pain and discomfort as you go about your daily activities.
Other symptoms of a bunion include:
If you are experiencing pain, a pronounced foot deformity, or difficulty fitting into shoes, you may want to get your bunion checked out by a foot doctor or orthopedic foot specialist. Diagnosing the condition is usually pretty easy.
The doctor performs a physical examination on your foot. In addition, the doctor reviews your medical history, general health, symptoms, and daily habits. In some cases, the physical examination alone will lead to a proper diagnosis.
The doctor may also order an X-ray to take a closer look at the MTP joint. This will show any damage to the joint as well as any malalignments of your foot bones.
Your feet play a very important role in how you live. If you experience pain or any other troubling symptoms, you may want to get the area checked out by an orthopedic foot doctor.
NJ Spine & Orthopedic has caring, experienced doctors who will listen to your symptoms and concerns. They carefully examine your foot condition and determine which treatments are best for you. Call (855) 586-2615 to schedule a consultation today.
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Once diagnosed with a bunion, you probably have some questions. How can I get rid of it? Do I need surgery? What will help with the pain?
Luckily, many people with bunions don’t require surgery. In fact, conservative treatments can be very helpful in reducing pain and inflammation of the joint. Conservative treatments, however, don’t reverse the joint damage of a bunion. Let’s take a look at some conservative treatments for symptom management.
Finding shoes that properly fit your feet and don’t put extra pressure on the toes may be a major step in managing your bunion pain. An orthopedic foot doctor can properly size your feet and recommend the best shoes based on your foot condition.
Special inserts, known as orthotics, placed inside the shoes can relieve pressure on the bunion. They can also help you distribute pressure evenly as you walk, preventing the bunion from becoming worse. These can be custom-made or purchased over-the-counter. Your doctor may also suggest using toe spacers to help with toe alignment and prevent a corn or callus.
When you experience painful flare-ups caused by a bunion, icing may help. Icing relieves inflammation, especially after a long day on your feet. Make sure you use an ice pack or another cold source. Don’t put ice directly on the skin.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) also help with pain and swelling. In many cases, over-the-counter prescriptions like ibuprofen will help with pain management. If your bunions are caused by arthritis, your doctor may want to explore other medication options.
A small non-medicated pad placed over a bunion can help reduce friction that leads to scraping and chafing of the area. These can usually be found at your local drug store or pharmacy.
In more severe cases of a bunion, surgery may be an option. If conservative treatments, like the ones mentioned above, don’t provide relief or your foot deformity is significant, an orthopedic foot doctor or podiatrist may suggest bunion surgery.
The goal of bunion surgery is to bring the big toe back into alignment as well as repair tendon and ligament defects. In many cases, these are minimally invasive procedures that can be performed on an outpatient basis. There are several surgical options for bunions including:
The recovery time after bunion surgery depends on your individual foot condition and how well you follow post-surgery instructions. After surgery, bandages are placed on your foot to keep it in the proper position. In many cases, you will have to regularly visit your doctor for up to 12 weeks.
In addition, you may require a foot brace, special surgical shoes, crutches, or a cast. Specific exercises or physical therapy may also be part of the recovery process.
Many patients have successful outcomes after a bunion surgery if they follow proper aftercare instructions.
People who suffer from a bunion just want to get their lives back to normal. They don’t want to worry about everyday foot pain or an unsightly foot deformity.
Our doctors at NJ Spine & Orthopedic empower you with the best treatments for your bunion or foot conditions. If you need surgery, we use the latest, minimally invasive procedures to reduce pain after surgery and get you back on your feet as soon as possible.
Ready to get help? Schedule a consultation today. Calling (855) 586-2615 puts you in contact with a dedicated team ready to help you regain control of your life.
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