Have you noticed that the joint at the base of your big toe is sticking out more than normal? Is it always touching the side of your shoes? Is the base of your big toe painful?
You might be dealing with a bunion, a common foot condition can cause significant pain if left untreated. When it comes to bunions, the earlier you treat them the better. Ignoring a painful bunion will likely result in worsening pain over time.
What are Bunions?
Bunions, also known as hallux valgus, is a deformity at the 1st metatarsophalangeal joint, more commonly referred to as the “big toe joint.” This big toe pain is a structural problem that can worsen over time. The bump on the side of your foot is actually caused by the underlying bone, the 1st metatarsal, changing position. The big toe moves in the opposite direction toward the 2nd toe as the 1st metatarsal drifts further inwards. This can cause pain and issues in the joint since it is no longer in the correct position.
Bunions are progressive, meaning they tend to get worse over time. Fortunately, there are several options to treat this deformity.
What Causes Bunions?
Bunions can be caused by many different incidents. Here are some of the few causes of bunions:
- You can inherit bunions: Unfortunately, some people can inherit feet that develop bunions because of their shape and structure.
- Improperly fitted shoes: Whether or not poorly fitting shoes cause bunions is debatable. Regardless, poorly fitting shoes can certainly irritate the “bump” that forms and increase pain.
- Your foot structure: Your foot structure plays a large role in developing bunions. The shape or structure of your foot can cause your toe to bend towards the second, making way for a bunion. People with flat feet are at a higher risk for developing bunions.
- Inflammatory conditions: Having conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or polio can cause bunions to form.
Bunion Treatment Options
Unfortunately, the only way to truly be rid of bunions is through surgery. However, many people find ways to live with their bunions by treating the pain caused by bunions. Here are some options for treating bunions.
Conservative Options for Pain Relief Only
When it comes to treating the pain caused by a bunion, there are several options available. These options include the following:
- Bunion Pads: Buying bunion pads over the counter can help you cushion the area and ease your pain by protecting your bunion from friction pain caused by the bunion rubbing against the inside of your shoe.
- Custom Orthotics: Orthotics devices can help you control alignment issues in your foot. Issues such as pronation can lead to bunion formation, but using orthotics can control issues such as pronation, and slow down the progression of arthritis and deformity. Placing a spacer between your big toe and second toe can also help minimize pain.
- Proper Footwear: Putting on proper footwear can accommodate the deformity. Try switching your shoes to ones that have wide toe boxes to help make room for your bunions.
- Pain Relieving Medications: Over the counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen and aleve, help control inflammation. By combining nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs with ice packs, you can reduce pain and swelling, which are a result of the bunion.
- Icing: Ice packs are a great way of reducing foot pain and swelling. Make sure to have a thin towel between the ice and your foot to protect your skin. This is not advised for diabetics with peripheral neuropathy.
If the conservative options fail to treat the pain caused by bunions, or if your bunion is too extreme or painful, our surgeons may recommend an operation to correct your bunion. The procedure that is best for you will depend on the amount of pain and arthritis, the alignment of your bones seen on weightbearing x-rays, and your overall health.
Let Us Fix Your Bunion
If you have a bunion that is bothering you or preventing you from living without pain, the foot and ankle surgeons at Foot and Ankle Associates of Greater Pittsburgh are always ready to help you. With years of experience, we have helped countless bunion patients get back to their lives without pain.
Remember the earlier you get a bunion evaluated, the more treatment options you have in easing the pain caused by bunions. Contact us today to learn what options are best for you.
336 College Avenue, Suite 106, Beaver,
PA , 15009
Monday: 8am – 12pm
Tuesday: 8am – 4:30pm
Wednesday: 8am – 4:30pm
Thursday: 8am – 4:30pm
Friday: 8am – 12pm