Bunions: Bony Bumps. Big Pain.
We all like to get to know our neighbors and may even be inclined to gather for a visit, but if your big toe seems to be spending a lot of time with its neighboring smaller toes, that’s a sign that a bunion is forming -- and that’s certainly nothing to celebrate with a block party!
Bunions develop due to an imbalance of pressure placed upon the joints and tendons of your foot. The uneven pressure, often simply from bearing and shifting weight, can cause the big toe joint specifically to become unstable, and drift out of alignment toward your other toes. This forces the joint outward and a bony bump to emerge outside the normal boundaries of your foot.
Bunions are progressive, so early intervention is vital to keep the bulging joint from becoming any bigger and stop it from eventually interfering with wearing shoes and participating in activities without pain.
Are your shoes to blame?
Actually, you can point the finger at your parents! Bunions are mainly genetic and form because of an inherited foot structure that makes you prone to developing the bony protrusion. Shoes aren’t totally blame-free, however. Your choice of footwear can accelerate the pre-determined condition, and aggravate symptoms of pain and swelling. Poor biomechanics, previous injuries, other deformities, and conditions like arthritis can also contribute to the onset of a bunion.
What can be done?
While you can’t help the foot structure with which you are born, you can help “correct” it and make it less prone to the problem. Custom orthotics can be designed to your unique specifications and help to evenly distribute weight as well as counteract poor biomechanics. These devices slip into your shoes, which by the way, should not be too narrow or tight, or have heels so high that it forces your foot into an abnormal position and places excessive pressure on your toe joints. You can also slow the progression of a bunion, as well as ease bunion pain, by using splints that hold your big toe in proper position. This can also be accomplished by taping your toe to its neighbor – see, they can still bond, but in a better way! There are stretches you can do as well to encourage the toe to stay in alignment. Finally, ice and anti-inflammatory medication can reduce discomfort and swelling, and padding can protect the area from further pressure.
Should you consider surgery?
There are times when these conservative measures just aren’t enough to provide the relief you need. If all else fails, there are surgical procedures for bunions, and we can help you determine which type is right for you, keeping in mind the severity of your condition as well as your lifestyle and other factors.
If your big toe is hanging out too much with your others, and the resulting bony protrusion is causing you pain and interfering with your daily life and favorite activities, make an appointment with our Round Rock or Cedar Park, TX office by calling (512) 593-2949. Let us help you keep that big toe in line and keep bunion pain at bay.