What to Do about a Bunion?
In the front of the foot, the joint at the base of the great toe is the most complex. Here the bones, tendons and ligaments work together to transmit and distribute the body’s weight, especially during movement. Should this joint become abnormally stressed over an extended period of time, a bunion deformity may result.
A bunion is a protuberance of bone or tissue around the joint. The enlargement occurs either at the base of the great toe or on the outside of the foot, at the base of the little toe where it is called a “bunionette” or “tailor’s bunion.” Bunions at the base of the great toe usually begin when the big toe starts moving toward the smaller toes when tight, pointed shoes are worn. This crowding puts pressure on the joint, pushing it outward. The movement of the joint in this outward direction starts the formation of a bunion.
It is a common deformity of the big toe joint & occurs mostly among people who wear shoes. Women are more frequently affected with bunions because of tight, pointed, confining or high-heeled shoes. Wearing high heels is especially stressful on the joints of the foot because all of the body’s weight rests there. The foot is then forced into a narrow, pointed “toe box”, compounding the problem. Older people are also vulnerable to bunions because of the higher incidence of arthritis affecting the big toe joint.
Pain from a bunion can be mild, moderate or severe, making it difficult to walk in normal shoes, especially high-heeled shoes. The skin and deeper tissues around the bunion also may be swollen or inflamed.
The other toes can be affected by a bunion, as a result of pressure from the great toe pushing inward toward the lesser toes. Toenails may begin to grow into the sides of the nail bed; the smaller toes can develop corns and become bent (hammertoes); or calluses may form on the bottom of the foot.
Treatments vary depending on the severity of pain and deformity. Left untreated, bunions tend to get larger and usually more painful. Evaluation by a podiatric surgeon should be sought at the first sign of pain or discomfort, so that severe deformity can be avoided.
Treatment has to be individualized and the recovery periods on average vary from as short as few hours to 7-10 days for most conditions & depending on the problem and any other associated problems the patient might have, like diabetes, venous insufficiency, arterial blocks, rheumatoid arthritis etc.