What Are Bunions?

Do you have a bunion?

A bunion is a bump or a lump on the side or top of your foot.  It can get red, swollen, and hurt when you wear certain shoes.  It’s also called hallux valgus and hallux abducto valgus.

With a bunion you may feel pain, redness, and swelling at the joint behind your big toe.  You will also have a bump on the side or top of your foot. It will get worse if you do a lot of walking and standing, especially if you are wearing uncomfortable shoes. Pointed or high-heeled shoes will be painful to wear because of the pressure that is put on your bone and skin.  You may complain of throbbing or numbness in that area due to your shoe putting pressure on the nerve that runs along the side of your foot. As time goes by, your bunion can worsen, and if there is any arthritis in the joint, it will be difficult to stand and walk. Even changes in the weather can cause pain in your bunions.

It is common to see bunions in both men and women. Women tend to complain more because of the type of shoes they wear, which irritate or worsen the condition.  Men’s shoes tend to be wider and roomier, so even if there is a bunion present, they don’t get aggravated as much. There is also another group of people who suffer very much with bunions and they are individuals who are afflicted with Trisomy 21. Children who suffer with Trisomy 21 tend to have very severe bunions making it even more difficult for them to walk.


What causes bunions?

Unfortunately, bunions cannot always be avoided, as they are also a hereditary problem.  You are likely to deal with them if a parent or grandparent had a bunion.  Pointed or high-heeled shoes may not be the cause of your bunion, but they can definitely worsen your condition and make it more painful.  In some cases, an injury to your big toe can cause the formation of a bunion. This sets the stage for arthritic changes in the joint, which slowly lead to the development of a bunion.


Do you need treatment for your bunion?

To diagnose a bunion, we would simply look at your foot and assess the bump sticking out on the side or top of your foot. We usually don’t need x-rays to determine if you have a bunion.  An X-ray can show how advanced the condition is. We often take them to show you the position of your bones and how severe your bunion is. X-rays can also show us if you have any osteoarthritis or destruction of the joint in the bunion. This may lead to continual pain in the future.

Unfortunately, we can’t just put a rubber band or toe spacer on your bunion and make your toe become straight again. Because bunions are hereditary, they can start developing at an early age and continue progressing over the years. It is important to understand that a problem that grew over time may not be able to be fixed in a heartbeat.

For treatment of bunions we also stress the importance of proper shoe wear. We can help you find good shoes that will support your feet and not further aggravate your bunion. We can provide different types of padding such as a gel cushion or moleskin to protect your bunion and surrounding skin.

When treating bunions in our office, we have found it very effective to use orthotic therapy. We prepare a pair of custom-molded shoe inserts, known as orthoses. These will help take the pressure off your big toe joint and help your foot function better, reducing the pressure and progression of your bunion.  Orthoses will alleviate pain, make wearing shoes more comfortable, and make it easier to walk.

The last course of treatment when other forms of treatment have failed to improve your condition, is surgery. We never perform surgery until we have tried other forms of treatment. We will take x-rays to show you the severity of your bunion, how it looks in relation to a healthy foot, and what surgery will accomplish to regain excellent foot health.


If your bunion is left untreated, what complications can happen?

Left untreated, your bunion will typically get worse and the pain will start to increase.  You may have difficulty wearing your favorite shoes because of your bunions.  It may become increasingly more difficult to walk because a bunion can make your foot lopsided and cause an imbalanced stride. This can increase the stress and pressure on your knees, which can also lead to pressure on your back or aggravate any back problems you may already have.   An untreated bunion may also prevent you from participating in sporting activities or exercise.


Get relief today!

The success rate for bunion treatment is very high. Bunion surgery has been advancing and improving for over 70 years.  With the advanced techniques available today, we are determined to do the best procedure to treat your condition.  Bunion treatment varies depending on the size of your bunion, the level of pain associated with your bunion, and your age. We will carefully select the most appropriate procedure to provide you with the highest level of success.

When surgery is involved for treating your bunion, we have two goals: to reduce or eliminate pain and to restore the proper function of your foot. We want you to be able to participate in the activities you enjoy in life.  Whether you enjoy walking, dancing, running, playing sports, or just having fun with your children or grandchildren, don’t let a bunion prevent you from fully participating in it. Contact our office today if you have a bunion developing.