Bunions are an actual enlargement of the bone on the side of the big toe joint. They are not a calcium deposits.
"When your feet hurt, your whole body hurts."
Bunions occur like most other foot problems — as a response to abnormal functioning of the foot. This particular abnormal function is mainly inherited, and bunions worsen over time.
The popular myth that tight shoes cause bunions is not true; however, tight shoes can aggravate them.
Bunions are cosmetically unsightly, and generally cause swelling, pain and skin irritation. They are often seen along with other foot problems such as hammer toes and neuromas (a tumor growing from the nerves).
This enlargement of the side of the foot occurs as a result of two things:
- Actual buildup of bone material by the big toe joint;
- A movement of the long bone behind the big toe against the skin so that the bone actually hits the shoe. As it moves outward, away from the center of the foot, the great toe moves toward the second toe. Most of the time the great toe underlaps the second toe, but in many cases it may move directly into the second toe, pushing all of the smaller toes against one another.
Treatment Under Self-Care
- The patient should attempt a roomy, supportive, comfortable shoe;
- Over-the-counter cushions available at drug stores can ease painful pressure and friction.
Depending upon what you need and want, as well as your specific circumstances, your podiatrist may recommend any of the following:
Conservative treatments are most commonly undertaken in the earlier stages of bunion deformity. If the bunion is only of mild nature and the patient has minimal complaints, then these treatments are often very helpful:
- An extra-wide, specifically fitted prescription shoe;
- Custom shoe inserts ("orthotic devices") prescribed by the podiatrist. These are made from a mold taken of the feet; measurements are taken and a prescription is written for the construction of the inserts.
- Medication such as an anti-inflammatory medicine, and possibly a steroid injection. This usually turns out to be only a temporary relief of symptoms and does not affect the growth of the bone or any deviation of the bone.
- Exercises to strengthen the foot.
Bunion Surgery (Bunionectomy)
If the patient does not utilize any of the conservative treatments, the condition can worsen, and the necessity for surgery may become more likely.
"I have more energy ... feel better about everything!"
Surgical correction of bunions can be performed at a same-day surgery facility or out-patient surgical center.
Your podiatrist will provide you with a special shoe to keep the dressing in place, and follow-up examinations and physical therapy and exercises will aid you in recovery.
The goal is to return your feet to a condition where you can wear any shoes that you wish.