One of the more common conditions treated by podiatric surgeons is the painful bunion. Patients with this condition will usually complain of pain when wearing certain shoes, especially snug fitting dress shoes, or with physical activity, such as walking or running. Bunions are most commonly treated by conservative means. This may involve shoe gear modification, padding and orthoses. When this fails to provide adequate relief, surgery is often recommended. There are several surgical procedures to correct bunions. Selection of the most appropriate procedure for each patient requires knowledge of the level of deformity, review of the x-rays and an open discussion of the goals of the surgical procedure. Almost all surgical procedures require cutting and repositioning the first metatarsal. In the case of mild to moderate bunion deformities the bone cut is most often performed at the neck of the metatarsal (near the joint).
Women traditionally have a higher rate of bunions, which is to be expected, since it is they who have traditionally worn shoes with high heels, a narrow toe box, or whatever fashion dictates from year to year. However, men can suffer from bunions as well, as can anyone for whom the right (or wrong) conditions exist, poor foot mechanics, improper footwear, occupational hazards, health and genetic predisposition. Finally, bunions have long been a condition associated with the elderly, and although they often appear in conjunction with inflammatory joint diseases such as arthritis (which is often associated with age), they can strike at any point in life, including adolescence.
Pain or soreness. Inflamattion and redness. A burning sensation. Numbness on the side of the great toe. Other conditions which may occur secondary to bunions include calluses on the big toe, sore between the toes, ingrown toenails, and stiffness of the joint where the great toe attaches to the foot.
A thorough medical history and physical exam by a physician is necessary for the proper diagnosis of bunions and other foot conditions. X-rays can help confirm the diagnosis by showing the bone displacement, joint swelling, and, in some cases, the overgrowth of bone that characterizes bunions. Doctors also will consider the possibility that the joint pain is caused by or complicated by Arthritis, which causes destruction of the cartilage of the joint. Gout, which causes the accumulation of uric acid crystals in the joint. Tiny fractures of a bone in the foot or stress fractures. Infection. Your doctor may order additional tests to rule out these possibilities.
Non Surgical Treatment
The most common cause of a bunion is over pronation, this is when your foot rotates in too much as you walk. You really need to treat the underlying cause of the bunion as soon as possible to prevent any further damage. Wear wide fitting shoes, preferably with a leather upper which will allow a stretch. Avoid high heeled shoes. Bunion exercises will help to keep the joint flexible. Bunion surgery may be required in some patients, however this should only be considered when all non-surgical treatment options have been used. Bunion surgery has improved dramatically over the last 20 years but it still cannot guarantee a total recovery and often post operative complications such as calluses and corns can occur depending on the procedure used. If your bunion becomes painful, red and swollen, try using ice on the joint and elevate the foot on a stool. Bunion Night Splints can reduce the size of the bunion. This will straighten the bunion while you sleep. A Bunion Shield can reduce the pain over the bunion. Performing stretches on your toes and feet while you go about your daily routine. This increases circulation, red blood cell activity, and bone realignment. The easiest way to do this is by using a soft, flexible, medical grade gel Toe stretcher which is gentle between the toes and helps to straighten your toes.
According to the NHS, 85 per cent of operations are successful, but there?s no guarantee that the problem won?t recur, that the pain will go away, or that your movement won?t become limited. Ask yourself if the affront to your vanity and discomfort caused by your bunion is worth the post-op suffering, and if you can cope with the inevitable restriction on your movement that means no driving and time off work, even if only for a few weeks.
Make better shoe choices. If you?re a woman, avoid high-heeled footwear whenever possible (at the very least, choose shoes with heels lower than two inches), and make sure all your footwear has a wide, deep toe box. Whether man or woman, if you?re trying on shoes and your toes feel ?squished? or crowded by a particular shoe, reject that style and try another, or go for a larger size. You don?t need to invite trouble. In general, shoes that come to a point at the toe are bad news, as they tend to push the toes together into an overlapping pattern. Shoes with rocker soles will unload pressure on the bunion area. Examine your feet regularly. Note any redness, swelling or discoloration. Flex your toes and check for any stiffness. If there is any, think back to what you?ve worn or done in the past few days. If the condition persists more than a few days, or worsens, a visit to the podiatric physician is in order.