One of the more common problems we treat at New England Foot & Ankle Specialists is bunions. This painful condition occurs when the joint at the side of the base of the big toe gets enlarged and moves out of place. The bony protrusion becomes red and irritated by the friction and pressure caused as it rubs inside your shoe. Left untreated, the big toe will continue to push against the second toe and may eventually even overlap it, causing a debilitating deformity that can make it difficult to walk.
What Causes Bunions?
Bunions tend to run in families, although it’s not the bunion itself that is hereditary, but rather the faulty foot structure that leads to the joint displacement. One of the biggest causes of bunions is wearing shoes that are too tight in the toe box or high heels that force all the toes to be squeezed in the front of the shoe. Bunions can also be caused by injury, neuromuscular problems, and other foot conditions, such as flat and pronated feet.
The first step in developing a successful treatment plan for bunions is a thorough examination of the foot by one of our podiatrists: Dr. George A. Abboud, Dr. Brian D. Tedesco, Dr. Carl Conui or Dr. Kimberly Thurmond. The foot doctor will evaluate the bunion visually and may also order x-rays to determine the severity and full extent of the deformity. A custom treatment plan focused on relieving pain and stopping further growth of the bunion will be developed for you, which may include any or all of the following:
- New Footwear: Changing to shoes that are designed with roomy toe boxes and low heels that will accommodate the bunion and not encourage its growth
- Protective Padding: Carefully placed padding to eliminate inflammation and irritation of the skin by preventing friction and rubbing on the bunion from footwear
- Orthotics: Over-the-counter and custom-made orthotic devices can position the foot properly and help stabilize the joint of the big toe
- Exercise: Stretching and exercises can prevent stiffness and increase joint mobility.
- Splints: Often used overnight, splints can help properly re-align toes and joints.
- Surgery: In severe cases that don’t respond to the above methods, a bunionectomy may be necessary.
Delaying treatment will only cause the discomfort of bunions to increase. Without treatment, other conditions like bursitis and arthritis may set in as well, so don’t delay. Contact our Reading office today or request an appointment online to get the proper care for your bunion.