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What Can I Do About My Bunions?

Jun 02, 2023
Bunions can seriously impact your shoe style once they grow from a small bump into a turnip-like projection. Much worse, though, is the pain that occurs with every step you take. Our team answers your questions about bunions and treatments that help.

Bunions are a common foot condition affecting millions of people in the United States. These bony bumps most often develop at the base of the big toe. A smaller version, called a tailor’s bunion or bunionette, can also develop at the base of the small toe.

Along with making it impossible to wear certain shoe styles, bunions can cause significant pain and difficulty walking. Fortunately, bunions are treatable.

Our skilled team at Metroplex Foot and Ankle, LLP, in Dallas, Garland, and Richardson, Texas, offers comprehensive podiatry services for people of all ages, including treatment solutions for bothersome bunions.

How do I know it’s a bunion?

Also known as a hallux valgus, a bunion is recognizable by the bump it creates at the base of the big toe. Sometimes mistaken for bony overgrowth, this protrusion is caused by the misalignment of bones in the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint at the base of the big toe.

A bunion causes the tip of the big toe to lean toward (and sometimes overlap) the second toe as the bone at the base of the MTP joint pushes outward, forming the characteristic bump on the side of the foot. 

Bunions tend to develop gradually, worsening as the bone misalignment increases. They may affect one or both feet. Bunion formation is most common in adults, but the deformity can also develop in teens, and babies are sometimes born with congenital bunions.  

Other symptoms of a bunion include:

  • Pain or soreness around the big toe joint
  • Swelling or redness around the joint
  • Corns or calluses on the skin of the affected area
  • Limited movement of the big toe
  • Difficulty walking due to pain
  • A burning sensation in or around the joint

Because these symptoms are common with other joint conditions, including gout or osteoarthritis, your Metroplex Foot and Ankle specialist may recommend X-rays to confirm the diagnosis.

Can I prevent bunions?

Bunions are related to various factors, including genetics, improper footwear, and underlying health conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or another chronic inflammatory disease.

You can’t always prevent bunions, given that some risk factors are out of your control. For instance, you can’t change the inherited conditions that shape your feet and increase your risk of bunions, such as flat feet. However, you can take steps to decrease your risk of developing bunions by:

Choosing proper footwear

Select shoes with a wide toe box rather than narrow or pointy shoes that force the toes out of alignment.

Avoiding high heels

High heels put pressure on the front of the foot and can contribute to the development of bunions.

Maintaining a healthy weight

Excess weight puts extra pressure on the feet and can contribute to bunion development.

Stretching and exercising regularly

Regular exercise, including stretching, can help maintain foot flexibility and strength.

How do you treat bunions?

At Metroplex Foot and Ankle, LLP, we start with conservative (non-surgical) treatments whenever possible. For mild to moderate bunions, our approach may include:

  • Changing footwear
  • Custom-made shoe inserts (orthotics) to redistribute pressure and reduce pain
  • Padding or taping to reduce friction and prevent corns or calluses
  • Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain and swelling
  • Cortisol injections to ease pain and inflammation for a longer period

We may recommend foot surgery if your symptoms don’t respond to conservative measures.

Bunion surgery typically focuses on removing inflamed tissue and realigning the joint to improve function and eliminate pain. Many bunion surgeries are minimally invasive, and we provide operative and post-operative details before scheduling the procedure.

If you suspect a bunion or wonder if you’re prone to bunions, we can help. Schedule an evaluation at Metroplex Foot and Ankle, LLP, today by calling the office or requesting an appointment online today.