Many people think of bunions as just a bump at the base of their big toe. But that visible — often painful — bump is a sign that the bones in the front part of your foot are misaligned.
A bunion is a foot deformity that worsens over time. Due to the common misconceptions surrounding bunions, many people suffer with their bunion bump for years before seeking help.
At Orthopedic & Wellness in Frederick, Waldorf, and Germantown, Maryland, our orthopedic surgeon specializes in bunion correction. When your foot deformity makes it difficult for you to get through your daily activities, you have options. You don’t have to live with bunions.
The truth about bunions
Your big toe has two joints. The largest joint, the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint, forms the connection between the first long bone in your foot and the first bone in your big toe.
A bunion occurs when the two bones that form your MTP joint move out of place. More specifically, the long bone in your foot shifts to the inside of your foot and the long bone in your big toe leans toward the second toe. This misalignment enlarges and inflames your MTP so it juts out, creating the bunion bump.
Though it’s not entirely clear what causes bunions to form, the foot deformity is more common in people who have an inherited faulty foot structure. Excess pressure on your foot or a history of a foot injury may also play a role in the formation of a bunion.
The Mayo Clinic notes that it’s not clear whether the types of shoes you wear causes bunions. But wearing shoes that force your toes in an unnatural position — high heels or shoes with a narrow toe box — may be a contributing factor in the development of bunions.
Treating your bunions
Bunions are a progessive foot deformity, which means they get worse over time. Ignoring your bunion doesn’t make it go away. But taking action early may stop or delay the progression of the foot deformity and your need for surgical intervention.
Nonsurgical treatment for your bunions may include:
- Changing the type of shoes you wear
- Adding a foot pad to cushion your bunion
- Getting custom-made orthotics to alleviate pressure and pain
- Icing your inflamed bunion
- Avoiding activities that worsen your foot pain
Our pain management experts may also recommend medication or injections to reduce inflammation and pain.
Correcting your bunions
Many people with bunions don’t need surgery. But when your bunion pain significantly affects your quality of life, it’s time to consider bunion correction surgery. Our orthopedic surgeon creates a personalized surgical plan based on the severity of your deformity, your usual activities, and your medical history.
Recovery following bunion correction surgery takes up to six months. Correcting a bunion often requires cutting through bone, and it takes 8-12 weeks for these bones to heal. During the healing and recovery process, you may need to use crutches, a walker, or a scooter for a period of time and to limit weight-bearing activity on the affected foot.
Once fully healed, you can expect your shoes to fit better and feel more comfortable. And with the removal of the bump and realignment of your bones, your foot will look better, too.
You don’t have to live with your bunion. Book an appointment by phone or online at the office nearest you to set up a consultation with our orthopedic surgeon.