What is a Bunion?
The first step in getting bunion treatment is being able to recognize one. Put simply, a bunion is a bony bump found at the base of the big toe, jutting out to the inside of the foot. The affected joint in this condition is the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint. In addition to being a great word to know for Scrabble, this particular joint is where the long metatarsal bone in the foot meets the proximal bone (phalange) in the toe.
A bunion develops when the big toe starts to angle inward, toward the smaller toes. On account of this abnormal angling, the MTP joint is pushed out of position, and this is the bony protrusion associated with the toe deformity.
With regard to visual signs and symptoms, the bunion itself tends to be most prominent. In addition to the abnormal bump, you may also observe redness, swelling, and callusing. The heightened risk of calluses is typically the result of friction from the bunion rubbing against the inside of a shoe. For this reason, individuals who develop bunions may need to switch footwear.
How is a Bunion Treated?
Even if you are able to bear the pain from a bunion, you should still have it treated. Why? Because this kind of condition is progressive, which means it will worsen over time when left untreated.
Whereas the condition worsening is certainly a concern, another distinguishing factor in progressive conditions is the fact they cannot be completely corrected without surgical intervention. That said, we may be able to address symptoms and slow—or even halt—progression with conservative care. This is more realistic for a milder condition, and especially when the condition is caught at an earlier stage.
Conservative treatment options include:
- Splinting or padding and taping your foot into a natural position to alleviate pain and reduce stress on the bunion.
- Applying ice to a bunion after time spent on your feet can relieve inflammation, soreness, and decrease pain.
- Padded shoe inserts may be helpful in reducing symptoms, preventing the condition from worsening, and distributing pressure more evenly to reduce irritation.
- Changing footwear to comfortable, roomy models that offer ample space for your toes.
When conservative methods are insufficient, we may recommend surgery. This can entail removing swollen tissue, realigning your bones, or permanently joining your bones in the affected joint.