If you have a bunion, a bony bump at the base of your big toe, you may find walking, or even wearing shoes, painful and difficult. Bunions can get worse over time and greatly interfere with your everyday life. If you notice any signs of a bunion, be sure to schedule an appointment with a board-certified podiatrist at Ahwatukee Foot & Ankle Center in Phoenix and Maricopa, Arizona. Your doctor can help you adapt to bunions and prevent them from getting worse, including through pain management, orthotics, and surgery. Schedule an appointment online or over the phone.
A bunion is a painful, bony bump at the base of your big toe. The area around a bunion may be red, swollen, and sore.
Bunions develop slowly over time. They begin with your big toe pointing inward, pressing against your second toe, instead of pointing straight ahead. Gradually, this forces your big toe joint to stick out, changing the alignment of the bones in your foot and causing a bony bump to form.
Bunions are more than just a cosmetic issue and can cause significant pain and problems with walking, wearing shoes, and other everyday activities. When left untreated, the deformity may worsen, significantly changing the structure of your foot. Your big toe may put so much pressure on your second toe that your second toe also becomes misaligned, and so on.
Bunions have a partly genetic component. Some people have a foot structure that makes them more likely to develop bunions. You’re at a higher risk if you have flat feet, or if your big toe naturally points inward rather than straight ahead.
Not everyone with these foot structures ends up developing bunions. They usually develop at least in part because of your footwear, especially if it crowds your toes.
Bunions affect women more often than men because of women’s shoe styles, like high heels and stilettos, that are designed for fashion and style rather than comfort. However, anyone can develop bunions, regardless of gender, and any shoes that are too small or tight can cause painful bunions.
It’s important to seek treatment for a bunion as soon as you notice it, even if it’s not causing pain. If you continue to wear shoes that crowd your toes, the bunion is likely to get worse and eventually lead to significant pain and difficulty walking.
At this point, you may need surgery to permanently correct the bunion and the alignment of your foot. That may be the only way to alleviate your symptoms. If you’re in serious pain or the shape of your big toe has changed, your podiatrist may use ultrasound or 3D imaging to confirm if you need surgery.
Thankfully, you can prevent this situation with early intervention, and most bunions respond to conservative treatment. Your doctor may recommend icing the area daily and taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. If you need additional pain relief, your podiatrist may suggest a steroid injection for temporary relief.
It’s also important to have footwear that fits properly. Your podiatrist may recommend custom-made orthotics, which you put in your shoes to improve the alignment of your toes, support your feet, and help with the discomfort of bunions. This relieves pressure on your big toe joint and stops your bunion from worsening.
Don’t wait until a bunion is interfering with your everyday life to get it treated. Schedule an appointment at Ahwatukee Foot & Ankle Center online or over the phone today.