Bunions can really be a bummer. However, the deformity doesn’t exclusively plague the older generation. These unsightly and bothersome bumps can also affect younger generations, such as millennials, too. In fact, more than one-third of American women have bunions, according to the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society.
What is a Bunion?
What appears to be a bump is actually bone. A bunion occurs when the metatarsophalangeal joint (the joint at the base of your big toe) juts outward. The area is often swollen and painful, especially when walking. Bunionettes (don’t let the adorable name fool you) are smaller bunions that typically form on the outer joint of your little toe.
This shift in the joint may cause your big toe to point towards your other toes instead of parallel. As the bunion increases in size, painful swelling, known as bursitis, may occur. Other complications, including calluses, corns, hammertoe, arthritis, and difficulty walking due to severe pain or overlapping toes may also arise.
What Causes Bunions?
While the specific cause of bunions is still up for debate, there are several factors that are thought to contribute to the uncomfortable bunions. Here are some of the suspected causes of foot deformity:
- Faulty Footwear – Shoes that are too tight, narrow or high. Sky-high heels and narrow shoes constrict the foot and force all the toes together.
- Genetics – Thanks a lot, Mom! All joking aside, different foot shapes can be more susceptible to various foot problems and injuries, including bunions.
- Congenital Foot Deformities – A foot deformity present at birth can be the culprit of toe pain related to bunions.
- Arthritis – Those that have a form of inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, are at greater risk for bunions.
How to Treat and Correct Bunions
The first (and easiest) corrective measures for bunions is to reconsider your footwear and use shoe inserts. Shoes that offer support and have a wider foot bed will provide more space for your toes and relieve pressure. Also, avoid wearing high heels. Shoe inserts, whether custom or generic, are also beneficial for preventing or soothing bunions. Bunion pads or taping the foot to correct the position of the toes can help, too. Over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, will work to ease discomfort.
If pain persists, your foot doctor may recommend cortisone injections. If all else fails to make your feet feel better, surgery may be required. The surgical removal of the bunion is called a bunionectomy. A bunionectomy involves realigning and/or removing a portion of the bone to straighten the toe.
The Center for Advanced Orthopedics (CAO) always utilizes conservative treatment options, considering surgery a last resort. Dr. Brett Grebing, a board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon, specializes in the foot and ankle with a focus on foot deformities including bunions.
If you’re experiencing foot or toe pain and need a foot doctor, we’d be happy to help you schedule an appointment! Call us at 618-288-9460. You can also visit www.c4ao.com for more information.