What Is a Bunion?
A bunion is usually first noticed as a bump on the inside of the big toe joint. However, the bump signals that changes are occurring in the bony structure of the foot— the big toe starts bending inward, towards the second toe, rather than pointing straight ahead.
Bunions are progressive, meaning that the angle of the bones over the years gradually shifts. At our clinics in DeSoto, Dallas and Sunnyvale (Texas), we treat bunions when they are first noticed, thus helping to alleviate longer-term problems.
What Causes Bunions?
Bunions are usually hereditary and are often caused by the way the foot is constructed. In some cases, the body’s weight falls unevenly on the tendons and joints. This imbalance can destabilize the big toe joint, and eventually result in the hard knob we call a bunion.
What Are the Symptoms of Bunions?
Signs and symptoms of a bunion may include:
- A bulge or bump on the outside of the big toe
- Swelling, redness or soreness around this bump
- Thickening skin around the bunion (corns or calluses)
- Persistent or occasional foot pain, especially when wearing shoes
- Immobilization or restrictions in the movement of the big toe
How We Diagnose a Bunion
While a bunion may be obvious to the doctor and the patient, our medical staff may order x-rays to assess the degree of the joint changes and any consequential damage to the structure of the foot.
Some complications associated with bunions include bursitis, hammer toe and metatarsalgia (inflammation in the ball of the foot).
Bunions tend to worsen over time, but some bunions progress more rapidly than others.
Before the medical staff at our clinics in Sunnyvale, DeSoto and Dallas can develop a treatment plan, we must determine the severity of the condition.
Some bunions need only to be monitored. Period physical exams and x-rays can determine whether there is a deformity. In that case, some type of treatment may be called for.
Our medical staff may recommend the following techniques to reduce discomfort and irritation:
- Ice packs can be applied to reduce inflammation and pain.
- Avoid activities that exacerbate bunion pain, such as standing for long periods of time.
- Footwear is critical. Choose shoes with a wide toe box. Avoid pointed toes or high heels.
- Padding placed over the bunion can help minimize discomfort. Ask the staff at our clinics in DeSoto, Dallas or Sunnyvale where to purchase bunion pads.
- Medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be used to relieve pain.
- Injections with corticosteroids, although rarely used to treat bunions, may be used to treat the inflamed bursa (fluid-filled sac located in a joint) sometimes associated with bunions.
- Orthotic devices may be prescribed by our medical staff.
Is Surgery Needed?
If the pain of a bunion begins to interfere with daily activities, our medical staff may recommend foot surgery. The goal of any surgical procedure is to eliminate foot pain.
Surgical procedures can remove the “bump,” and correct changes in the bony structure of the foot or soft tissue deformities.