Feet come in all shapes and sizes – and both can change over time! – but some configurations are definitely better than others. If you’ve noticed a bunion beginning to form on one or both feet, you probably know this well.
Bunions are a common foot deformity in which two big things happen:
- A bony bump forms on the side of your foot, right at the joint where the toe connects with the rest of the foot.
- The toe itself gets “pushed” out of alignment, to the point where it’s colliding with (or even crossing over) the second toe.
The longer you go without treatment, the worse a bunion gets. Even if this new foot shape doesn’t seem to be causing you too many problems, bunions can become very painful, swollen, and sore over time. At that point, they can make walking, standing, or even just fitting into a pair of shoes very troublesome.
Causes of Bunions – It’s Not Just About Shoes!
It’s a common misconception that bunions only occur in middle-aged and older women. While that’s certainly a risk factor (women make up about 90 percent of all cases), bunions can occur in men and even children, too.
In many cases, it may be that your natural foot shape doesn’t do a very good job of distributing pressure evenly across your feet, and excess weight and force slowly pushes your toe out of alignment. Injuries and inflammatory arthritis could also contribute to the condition.
High-heeled shoes (or other shoes that either cramp toes or place extra weight on the front of the foot), when worn very frequently, are correlated with a greater risk of bunion formation. There’s some debate whether shoes can actually cause bunions in a healthy foot, or if they just make existing problems worse. In either case, they should be avoided as much as possible.
Treating Bunions Without Surgery
As with many other foot conditions, our first choice is to manage bunions conservatively. It’s important to realize that this won’t fix the bunion – the bump will still be there. But it can often allow bunion patients to return to normal activity without pain, as well as stop (or at least slow) progression of the deformity.
Managing bunions without surgery is all about alignment. Since bunions are caused by uneven pressure on the foot, our strategy is to rebalance those forces away from the unstable metatarsal joint, through methods such as:
- Switching to roomier and more comfortable shoes (and leaving the high heels in the closet).
- Taping or splinting the toe into its normal position.
- Using shoe inserts or custom orthotics to cushion and support your feet properly.
- Placing padding along sensitive areas to minimize painful friction and avoid complications such as corns or blisters.
If you still have some minor pain and swelling, use of over-the-counter painkillers or applying ice can be beneficial. We can also provide cortisone shots or other remedies for stronger discomfort.
In severe cases, however, surgery may be necessary. And if that becomes the case for you, then you can find comfort in knowing that you are in good hands here at Community Foot Clinic of McPherson. We will thoroughly discuss what surgery will look like so you can move forward with treatment feeling confident.
Surgical Bunion Correction – Is It for You?
The truth of the matter is that surgery is the only way to restore a “normal” foot shape for someone with a bunion. Although we try to avoid it if possible, sometimes surgery is simply the best option. If your bunion is severe, and conservative treatments aren’t helping enough, it may be time to consider it.
Several different surgical procedures might be selected based on the severity of your bunion, as well as other factors such as your age, health, lifestyle or work commitments, or personal goals. We’ll make sure to talk through all your options with you clearly and carefully so that you can make an informed choice. Whatever procedure is selected, we’ll do our best to minimize scarring and help you recover as quickly as possible.
Again, with bunions it’s best not to delay treatment – the earlier we see you, the more likely we can help without needing any surgical procedures. To make an appointment at our office, please fill out our online contact form or give us a call at (620) 241-3313 today.