Do you have any abnormal bumps on your feet? There is a good chance that you might have bunions. It is a common foot ailment that is more common in adults, especially women. If you’re seeing early signs of bunions in one or both feet, you might need to check it out, depending on the severity and cause.
Read this article to learn all you need to know, including how to prevent bunions, their causes, and what to do if you have them.
What are Bunions?
Bunions, with the scientific name Hallux valgus, are a joint distortion that connects the biggest toe to the foot. The big toe is usually pulled to the other toes, leaving the joint sticking out. Bunions typically happen due to a lot of pressure on the toe joint over several years. Usually, 1 in every 3 Americans have bunions, which is more common in adults, especially female adults, due to years of stress. The skin covering the joint is usually red and the joint is painful.
Types of Bunions
While bunions on the big toe are the most common type, there are other types of bunions, such as:
Congenital Hallux valgus: This usually occurs with babies, as they are born with it
Juvenile Hallux valgus: When children between the ages of 10-15 have bunions
Bunionette: This is also known as tailor's bunion, and this term is used when a bunion happens to the little finger instead of the big toe.
Symptoms and Causes
Check out some signs you should look out for with bunions (symptoms) and some of the factors that may cause them to form.
Symptoms of bunions
Bunions have different symptoms that enable you to identify some of the early signs:
- Joint protrusion
A protrusion at the side of the joint that connects the big toe and the feet. The bunion bulges out, obstructing the standard shape of the feet.
The skin hardens where the toes rub on each other as a result of the accumulated pressure. This occurs as a result of repeated contact between different parts of the skin.
- Frequent pains
Swelling, chronic pain, and skin redness usually occur around the bunion. The pain happens due to sustained nerve damage, which makes the pain intense and long-lasting.
- Restrictions on the flexibility of the big toe
The affected toe will be difficult to bend. When forced to turn, it will have a burning sensation.
What causes bunions on your feet?
There is no clear known cause of bunions, but there are many theories about how it comes to be and progresses. Some of the elements are:
Heredity: Sometimes, children inherit it from parents or grandparents without doing anything. In this case, it is not caused by what you did; the bunion is just passed down through genes/DNA.
Injuries or stress on the feet/toe is the most prevalent cause of bunions. Injuries causing bunions are common among older people, due to putting too much pressure on them or when they get injured at the toe joints.
Distortions at birth: Some complications during birth can lead to bunions. If the birth process has any issues, a bunion can result from complications such as the way the baby is handled during childbirth.
Walking style: How you walk can significantly reduce or increase your chances of getting bunions. Please don't walk in ways that put pressure on your toes, so as not to cause stress on them.
Summary of Bunion Causes and Symptoms
Check out the summary of the causes and symptoms of bunions below.
Causes of Bunions
Symptoms of Bunions
Inflexibility of Toe
Bunion Diagnosis - How to Diagnose the Problem?
You can quickly diagnose bunions by taking the following steps
- Look at the foot to see if the joint is standing out
- Сheck for hardening and redness of the skin
- Observe the toe to see if it's pulled towards the other ones
- Put a bit of pressure on the joint to see if it hurts
- Then finally, an x-ray can be done to check for joint damage and whether the bone is aligned
Is it possible to diagnose bunions at home?
Bunions can be identified at home as they leave many external signs. All you need to do is follow the steps to diagnose it carefully and be sure of your results. The last step is to do an x-ray; this can't be done at home but is usually not needed if you have most or all of the other symptoms.
How to Treat Bunions
Though you can't treat Bunions completely, there are a couple of ways to handle them, and these include:
Bunion Pad and taping
You can buy bunion pads from pharmacies or medical stations that act as a cushion for the toe to reduce the pain. You can also use medical tape to correct the bending of the toe and keep it in the proper position.
Change your Footwear
The type of footwear you use can make bunions worse. Pointy and narrow footwear squeezes the toes and feet, worsening the condition. Wear wide shoes that have space for your feet and toes to reduce the pressure on your toes comfortably.
Orthotic devices are special insoles for pain for shoes to correct bunions, and doctors prescribe them. The shoes or heels are generally custom-made. The doctor prescribes them to help adjust the alignment of the toes. The affected toe and the one immediately next to it can also have spacers to separate them.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), also known as pain killers, can be bought from pharmacies or prescribed by doctors at the hospital to help reduce the pain felt on the toe. You can also place ice packs to ease the pain, burning sensation, and swelling.
Physical therapy and massage help split up bonds of the soft tissues to reduce the pain and the swelling. You can do different exercises to increase the strength of the muscles close to the bunion, which also aids in improving the alignment of the toe.
can be taken to help reduce the swelling and pain but shouldn't be used frequently or directly on the joint, as this can lead to more damage. Injections are the last step before trying surgery if the other treatment methods don't work out.
surgery is a last resort if all the treatments mentioned earlier methods, including injections, do not work and the pain reaches a point where it is unbearable. Bunionectomy is the surgical procedure used for bunions. The surgery aims to remove the bunion and realign the bone so the toe can regain its proper position.
Things to be done after the surgery
- Don't use your feet to move for at least two weeks
- Don’t drive for 6-8 weeks
- Take a work leave for 6-12 weeks
- Don't do sports for six months
What are the best insoles for bunions
What is the best orthotic for bunions?
The best orthotic for bunions is always custom-made after the doctor has observed you and determined what would be best for you. Your measurements will be taken, and a company that sells medical shoes will be contacted to make one for you, but this can be expensive.
How do orthotics work for bunions?
Orthotic shoes for bunions help keep the toes apart and give them plenty of room in the shoe, without having to compete for space with one another.
Prevention of Bunions
Bunions cannot be entirely prevented as there are causes we don't know and some others we have no control over, but there are things that can help reduce your chances of developing them:
- Wear the correct shoe size;
- Don’t wear pointy shoes that put stress on your toes;
- Don’t wear high-heeled shoes because they pressure the toes;
- If you have flat feet, get orthotics that can help you manage and prevent bunions.
Risk factors for bunions
Some things can increase your risk of getting bunions:
- High Heels
- Ill-fitting shoes
- Rheumatoid arthritis
What you can do right now to prevent bunions
Reduce activities that can increase your risk of bunions or make them worse if you already have them. Changing walking posture, footwear, and other habits that affect your toes are ways to shrink bunions naturally. If you already have a bunion, try treating it so the toes get better because, if left untreated, it will gradually get worse instead of better. See your doctor if things don't get better and it reaches an unbearable stage. If you need a professional opinion about what to do or need surgery to correct the toe's position, also see your doctor.
A bunion is a prevalent deformity, primarily found in but not limited to the female adult population. You cannot wholly avoid bunions, but you can take many steps to help reduce your risk of getting them, such as wearing shoes that fit properly and having a good walking posture. Bunions are also easily diagnosable since all the symptoms are physically shown or felt. Plus, they're usually easy to manage with over-the-counter tools such as EastFeet orthotic insoles for bunions. Treatments can help improve them and reduce the pain but cannot altogether remove them, and surgery should only be used as a last resort if things get much worse.