What are bunions?
In short, a bunion is a bone growth deformity that can occur because of pressure. Usually, the condition occurs because of the pressure created by the way a person walks or the shape of the foot. For most people, bunions develop gradually over time. The condition can be made worse by standing for extended periods or by wearing ill-fitting, narrow footwear. Some people have a higher risk of experiencing bunions. In particular, individuals with a family history of bunions or other conditions like flat feet may be more likely to develop the problem. Likewise, previous foot injuries or being diagnosed with an inflammatory disease like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) increases the chances.
What are the symptoms?
Beyond the physical growth that a person’s foot displays, other symptoms may indicate that an individual has a bunion. Inflamed skin on the side of the big toe or a big toe that turns inward towards the other toes are common signs. Thicker skin on the underside of the big toe or calluses on the second toe are also possible. Additionally, people may experience foot pain that comes and goes. The following non-surgical treatments can help with less severe cases, but if symptoms interfere with mobility, a trip to the doctor is usually in order.
1. Reconsider the shoes
Especially for runners, shoes that pinch the feet or rub against the toes can make bunion symptoms worse. Consider changing to a roomier pair that don’t pinch the toes. Likewise, opting for shoe inserts can work to better distribute pressure and prevent the bunion from worsening. In some cases, people may need prescription orthotics.
2. Ice and pain relievers
Another go-to solution for managing pain symptoms includes icing the bunion. This option is especially ideal for people standing for extended periods or if the area becomes sore and swollen. However, people with reduced circulation in the feet should speak with a physician before applying ice. Additionally, OTC pain relievers and cortisone injections can help manage bunion pain.
3. Physical therapy and taping
People with more serious bunions may find that a trip to the podiatrist is in order. A podiatrist might decide that padding and taping the bunion is important to improve mobility and quality of life. Taping ensures the foot maintains a more normal position and reduces the pain in the area. Physical therapy (PT) can also be a smart solution for tackling inflammation and pain.
Surgery for severe cases
Although many people can sidestep surgical interventions, more severe cases that prevent a person from walking or running normally will require a procedure to address the problem. Not every individual with a bunion is a good candidate for surgery. Also, note that more than 1 type of operation can treat the condition depending on the severity. Individuals concerned about bunion pain interfering with daily life should consult a podiatrist.