Photos of celebrity feet are often splashed across the entertainment news world. The headlines may involve designer shoes by Christian Louboutin or Jimmy Choo, but many times unsightly bunions steal the show.
A bunion is essentially a partial dislocation of the great (big) toe at its base joint that progressively worsens over time. The end of the big toe slowly dislocates further and further towards the smaller toes while the end of the first metatarsal (at the base of the toe) becomes more protuberant. This creates an obvious bump on the inside of the foot.
Over time, and as the toe goes one direction and the first metatarsal goes the opposite way, this gradual dislocation of the joint will cause abnormalities. Suddenly, you find yourself unable to wear your favorite pair of shoes or go on your morning jogs. This condition is usually caused by ill-fitting footwear and affects more than 1 in every 3 Americans today.
But describing a bunion simply as a bony bump doesn’t get to the heart of the problem, and blaming improper footwear often glosses over the root cause—the structure of your foot. Heredity, congenital abnormalities, injuries, arthritis, and other diseases can change the biomechanics of your feet and cause your body’s weight to be unevenly distributed. This excess pressure causes instability in the joint of the big toe and the consequential shift towards the other toes.
The good news is that you don’t have to be a celebrity to receive expert bunion care. Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists provides the best conservative and surgical treatments for this painful condition.
What are the Causes?
You will most likely notice a bump forming long before you experience pain. And, ignoring changes in the feet is a big mistake – it is always easier to prevent a foot condition than to treat one. However, most of us often choose to continue the same foot care habits despite the negative effects they have on our feet. Eventually, what may have seemed like a simple cosmetic issue ends up causing daily pain.
In addition to the visible bump on the side of the foot, there are also other signs you should look for whenever bunions are a concern. Check the list below:
- Pain and tenderness.
- Redness and inflammation.
- A callus or corn on the bump.
- Hardened skin on the bottom of the foot.
- Stiffness and restricted motion in the big toe, which may lead to difficulty in walking.
Therefore, the best way to prevent bunion pain and further inflammation is to opt for the right shoes and socks. You should always look for shoes with a wide toe box, wide instep, and soft soles that have a smooth surface in the bunion area. This preventative measure should, of course, be coupled with close supervision from a podiatrist.
How Can You Treat and Prevent Bunions?
There are easy, effective changes that you can make to prevent this deformity from progressing, and bunion experts Drs. Craig Thomajan and Ricardo Chica are also here to help you. So, you should schedule an evaluation to learn about your unique foot structure and conservative treatments that will slow the development of this condition.
Doing so will help us build an effective treatment plan personalized to fit your specific situation.
Understanding your arch type is invaluable when purchasing shoes, because all footwear is not created equal – high arches, flat feet, and neutral arches each require a specific type of shoe to provide the best support and weight distribution. We may also recommend a custom orthotic to assist in this area.
Based on the results of your examination, some conservative treatments may be recommended, such as:
- Shoe modifications. In many cases, bunion pain can be managed successfully by simply switching to shoes that fit properly and do not compress the toes.
- Custom orthotics. To take pressure off your bunion, we may recommend that you wear custom orthotics.
- Foot padding. Protective "bunion-shield" pads can help cushion the painful area over the bunion. These pads can be purchased at a drugstore or pharmacy.
- Anti-inflammatory medications. Ibuprofen and naproxen can help relieve pain and reduce swelling.
- Splints. In some cases, a splint worn at night which places your big toe in a straighter position may also help relieve pain.
- Icing. Applying ice several times a day for 20 minutes at a time can help reduce swelling. However, you should never apply ice directly on your skin – use a towel for protection.
Although these methods won’t permanently realign the joint (since they don’t fundamentally change the structure of your feet), they can diminish or altogether eliminate painful symptoms.
Choose shoes with a wide toe box and make sure to have your feet measured. Many people forget that their feet spread with age, and they continue to wear the same size year after year. Shoes that are too small, too tight, and too pointy will cause pain and encourage the progression of this condition.
Keep in mind that you don't want your foot moving too much within the shoe as this may cause rubbing of the bunion. However, it should be wide enough to fit comfortably. Shoes made from stretchy material are often more comfortable.
If you suspect you have developed a bunion, you should seek medical treatment before the situation gets out of hand – when bunions are treated from an early stage, it will be much simpler to take the necessary treatment steps for both you and your doctor.
We Can Help You!
While new shoes and prescription orthotics are a start, bunion splints can be another effective option. Using a combination of cushioning and strapping, we are able to reposition the foot for proper weight distribution. This relieves pain and strain on the affected joint.
In some cases, surgical intervention is necessary to maintain mobility and relieve intense discomfort. Depending on the specific cause of the bunion, our team will determine the best procedure. The goals of surgery are to reposition the toe, eliminate the bump, and address any joint and/or tendon issues that are present.
At Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists, you’ll receive star treatment by leaders in the field of podiatry. Drs. Thomajan and Chica are dedicated to ending your foot pain through expert and effective treatment. So, call us today to schedule an evaluation. Dial (512) 328-8900, or simply fill out our handy request form online.