Bunions are a foot deformity that may make it difficult to walk or to wear shoes comfortably.
Almost a quarter of women and men in the United States have one or two bunions. Although tight footwear can make bunions worse, bunions are a hereditary condition and aren’t caused by wearing high heels or other kinds of shoes.
At Ankle & Foot Associates, LLC, our expert podiatrists believe your feet should be pain-free. We treat bunions at our select locations throughout Southeast Georgia and South Carolina. Here’s what you need to know to keep your bunions from getting worse.
Bunions are misaligned bones
That big lump on the side of your foot that’s growing sore and red isn’t a callus. A bunion occurs when the base of your metatarsophalangeal joint (MTP) — otherwise known as the bottom of your big toe — shifts out of alignment so that your big toe leans toward your other toes.
When your joint angles toward your toes, the base pushes outward and protrudes. The misaligned MTP also causes your big toe to rub against or even overlap your second toe.
Depending on how severe your misalignment is, a bunion can make it difficult to find footwear that fits properly. A bunion can also become painful if you wear tight shoes that rub against and irritate the MTP joint.
Your shoes count
Even though bunions aren’t caused by tight shoes, wearing tight shoes makes bunions worse and leads to a whole host of other foot problems.
When you wear high heels that distribute weight unevenly to the ball of your foot and your toes, or when the toe box is so tight it crams your toes together, your big toe crowds your other toes.
When toes aren’t aligned and have enough room to operate separately, they rub against one another, creating friction that can cause calluses and corns.
Calluses are areas of toughened skin that may not be painful, but could alter sensation in your feet. Corns are lesions that are tough on the outside, but soft inside and can be quite painful.
To alleviate a bunion and give your toes the space they need, choose shoes with a roomy toe box. Also avoid high heels whenever possible.
Bunions get worse
Bunions don’t go away on their own. If you want to resolve a bunion, your first step is to see a podiatrist. They may be able to help your MTP realign by ordering custom-designed orthotics that you wear in your shoes.
The orthotics support your feet and nudge your toe bones into a more perfect alignment.
If you wear footwear that’s too tight, or if your bunion worsens, it may be painful to walk or to stand on your feet for too long. Changing footwear, soaking your feet in warm water, and wearing bunion pads may help.
We may also recommend medication to control the pain and inflammation caused by an irritated bunion.
When these conservative measures aren’t enough to resolve your pain, our podiatrists may recommend bunion surgery. Our highly trained surgeons are expert at specialized, state-of-the-art Lapiplasty® 3D Bunion Correction™.
Lapiplasty resolves the root causes of your bunion by stabilizing the MTP joint. Unlike traditional bunion surgery, which has a long recovery time, you can walk with a boot just days after your procedure. You won’t need a cast or lose more than a few days of work.
If you’d like relief from bunion pain, contact us today by phone or online form. We have 15 convenient locations throughout Southeast Georgia and South Carolina for your foot and ankle care needs.