A bunion is a painful hard bump that forms at the big toe joint and is associated with hallux valgus – a condition where the big toe moves towards the smaller toe. This foot problem develops gradually, and the deformity often worsens over time and may make it painful to walk or wear shoes. In most cases, you can relieve bunion pain by wearing wider shoes with adequate toe room. However, in cases where pain persists despite nonsurgical intervention, your foot and ankle surgeon Alamo Heights may elect to have surgery to correct the deformity.
Symptoms of a bunion
The most obvious sign of bunions is a visible bump on the inside of the foot. Bunions may also cause symptoms like:
- Inflammation and redness
- Pain and tenderness
- Tough or hardened skin on the bottom of the foot
- Stiffness and limited motion in the big toe; may result in difficulty walking
- A callus or corn on the bump
What causes bunions?
The most common cause of bunions is wearing poorly fitting shoes, particularly those with a narrow toe box. Shoes with pointed toe boxes force the toes into an unnatural position. Bunions may also be inherited; some people’s feet are more likely to develop bunions due to their shape and structure. An inflammatory condition like rheumatoid arthritis puts you at risk of developing a bunion.
Nonsurgical treatment for bunions
Most cases of bunions improve without surgery. Bunions that are not painful may not require treatment; observation may be all you need. Although nonsurgical treatments can’t reverse the deformity, they can help minimize pain and prevent the bunion from worsening. Examples of conservative treatments include:
As mentioned above, wearing ill-fitting shoes is the main cause of bunion formation. Therefore, you can manage bunion pain by switching to shoes that fit properly. They should have a wide or open-toe box that does not compress your toes. You can consult a professional about proper shoe fit and the shoe type that suits you best.
If you have bunion pain, you can take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen and ibuprofen to relieve pain and reduce swelling. If your bunion is due to arthritis, your doctor may prescribe other medications to help with symptom relief.
Orthotics and other devices
Your specialist may recommend the following to take pressure off your bunion.
- Toe spacers. You place these items between your toes to prevent them from rubbing.
- Custom-made or over-the-counter shoe inserts
- A splint. Wearing a splint at night can help bring your toe in proper alignment. However, splints or braces have not been shown to fix bunions permanently.
Placing silicon pads inside your shoes can help cushion the painful area over the bunion. You can purchase protective pads at your local drugstore or pharmacy. It is best to test the pads for a short time since the size of the pad may increase the pressure on the bump, worsening the pain.
The best way to prevent and manage bunion is to wear shoes with the right fit. Avoid short, tight, pointed, and those with heels higher than two inches.
If you have painful bunions, visit your doctor at Sports Medicine Associates for treatment to improve your quality of life.