Dealing with Bunions

Bunions are not life-threatening, but they can certainly impact your quality of life by making it difficult to do things that you normally would or that you enjoy. They can even have an effect on your choice of footwear. Women with these painful bumps may find it hard to wear narrow pumps with high heels. Luckily, there are methods of treatment for bunions that offer relief from the pain and irritation they can cause.

What is a Bunion?

Bunions are painful, bony protrusions that occur on the metatarsophalangeal joint, the one at the base of the big toe. This condition is caused when the big toe is pushed out of alignment and against the others, forcing the joint to jut outward. Given that the protrusion is abnormal, most shoes are not designed to accommodate a bunion. This results in the pressure causing the bursa, which is a fluid-filled sac that protects the joint, to become inflamed. Eventually the entire joint becomes stiff, swollen, and painful.

There are various contributing factors that can lead to a bunion forming on your foot. Ill-fitting shoes, especially ones that are too narrow in the toe box, can force your big toe to point inward for extended periods of time and may increase the risk. Arthritis pain might change the way you walk and could put you at risk of developing a bunion. It is also possible to inherit a structural foot defect that causes the big toe to be prone to the problem.

How Do I Know if I Have a Bunion?

When you experience pain in the joint of your big toe and it has an unusual shape, especially if your big toe bends in towards your other toes, it is likely that you have a bunion. A bulging bump on the outside of your toe, swelling, and thickening of the skin at the base are all physical signs that further indicate this condition. You may also notice redness in the area, but if you are unsure, an X-ray can confirm the diagnosis.

There is treatment for bunions that you can handle yourself at home, but it is important to come in and see us at Shenandoah Podiatry if you have persistent pain, decreased mobility, or difficulty finding shoes that offer a proper fit and are comfortable.

What are Conservative Treatment Options?

If the pain and irritation isn’t persistent, and you catch it early, a change to comfortable footwear might suffice. A pair with a decent-sized toe box can provide the comfort and relief you need. Over-the-counter pain relievers may be effective in dealing with some of the symptoms and heating pads and warm foot baths can also help. Padded shoe inserts assist with the distribution of the pressure that comes with your bodyweight and can keep stress off of bunions. There are also stretches you can do as well as splints you can wear at night to hold your toe in its proper position.

If you come see us at Shenandoah Podiatry, we may prescribe orthotics or special shoes with insoles and uppers that are designed to take pressure off of affected joints.

The best action you can take with regard to treatment for bunions is to be aware of your feet, wear comfortable shoes, and come in to see us early if you have any pain or irritation that you cannot manage on your own. Schedule an appointment with our Roanoke, VA, office to see Dr. Jennifer Keller for bunion treatment, or any other foot and ankle problems you might be experiencing. Call (540) 904-1458 for our Roanoke office today!