When temperatures rise, sandals are many people’s preferred footwear. However, for people with foot deformities, such as bunions, they may not think sandals are an option. If you’re not familiar with the term, a bunion is an unnatural “bony bump” at the base of the big toe that forms when the bone or tissue at the big toe joint moves out of place. The big toe is forced to bend toward the other toes, causing an often-painful lump of bone. When this happens, the base of the big toe pushes outward on the first metatarsal, forming a bunion.
Bunions can occur in both adults and adolescents and this bump can often become red, swollen, sore and painful. In addition, the skin at the base of your toe may thicken, forming calluses. The pain can be sporadic or constant, and the bunion may affect how much you can move your big toe.
So, what causes bunions? A majority of the time, it is a hereditary issue. Bunions tend to run in families; however, it is the foot type passed down, not the actual bunion. Over extension or loose ligaments in the inner foot, flatfeet, neuromuscular disorders, genetic disorders, arthritic disease and traumatic conditions can all cause bunion formation.
Certain occupations that place undue stress on the feet can play a factor in the formation of bunions, for example, a ballet dancer. Most times, bunions are caused by uneven weight bearing and shifting on the joints and tendons in your feet. This uneven pressure makes your big toe joint unstable, which over time molds the joint into a hard knob that sticks out.
So, how can you provide relief for bunions? Bunions are permanent unless they are surgically corrected. However, by identifying bunions early, one can try to relieve the pressure caused by the bunion and slow the progression of the deformity.
There are some non-surgical and treatments that may relieve the pain and pressure of a bunion. If you’re affected, you can:
- Switch to roomier, more comfortable shoes that have plenty of space for your toes.
- Tape and pad your foot in a normal position to reduce stress on the bunion and your pain.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers to control the pain.
- Receive cortisone injections if you suffer from a red swollen joint, such as gout.
- Buy padded shoe inserts to distribute the pressure evenly when you move. This can alleviate pain and keep your bunion from getting worse.
- Purchase over-the-counter arch supports or prescription orthotics.
- Ice your bunion after you've been on your feet for a long period of time to relieve soreness and inflammation.
- Lapiplasty 3D bunion corrective procedure
If you experience persistent pain, have decreased movement in your big toe or cannot find shoes to fit due to your bunion, contact a foot & ankle provider to help.