Bunions are a protrusion that forms on the foot, near the base of the big toe. Bunions stick out to the side, near the joint of the big toe, making the entire foot look as if it's at an angle. Bunions are an extremely common condition affecting as much as 36 percent of people over the age of 65. Understanding your bunions more thoroughly can help you as you seek treatment and relief.
Why are bunions a problem?
Simply put, bunions can be painful. Feet with bunions on them often don't fit properly in standard shoes. When a person with bunions wears normal-width footwear, the bunion can rub along the edge of the shoe, becoming red and inflamed. People who have bunions can also get painful callouses in this area. The location of the bunion on a major joint on the foot also means that whenever the foot bends during use, all pressure from the patient's body weight is placed on the bunion. Over time, bunions can become a serious, debilitating problem.
Is there a solution?
The only good thing about bunions is that they are treatable. There are a variety of ways to treat bunions, both surgically and non-surgically. Non-surgical solutions are generally sought first. These options include:
- Bunion pads. Bunion pads reduce friction inside the shoe and provide support for bunion sufferers.
- Extra-wide shoes. In mild cases, patients can simply relieve their symptoms by wearing extra-wide shoes and sandals.
- Physical therapy. Working with a physical therapist can relieve pain from the bunion and increase foot flexibility. Physical therapy cannot get rid of bunions, but can make bunions livable for many patients.
If these methods don't work, surgical procedures are the next option. Bunion surgery is generally only recommended for patients who have intense pain and find their bunions difficult to live with. Bunion surgery is often painful immediately after the procedure, but many patients find that the pain goes away relatively quickly. When the surgery is completely healed, many patients report that the procedure has brought them relief.
Are bunions preventable?
For many people, bunions are genetic. However, progression of a bunion is preventable. Bunions that are never allowed to progress are often not painful at all. The following tips will help prevent a bunion from progressing:
- Have your feet measured and buy shoes that fit the measurements.
- Try on new shoes at the end of the day when the feet are at their largest.
- Never wear shoes that are not comfortable or that do not fit well.
For more tips and advice about the management of your bunions, speak with an experienced podiatrist.