Have you noticed a pronounced, bony bump forming at the base of your big toe? Perhaps the toe itself is starting to shift out of alignment in the opposite direction as well. If so, it’s a good chance that what you’re dealing with is a bunion.
Bunions start out small, and often with no noticeable symptoms other than the fact that they look a little strange. Unfortunately, this often means people don’t seek help for their bunion until the bump is large, pain is constant, regular shoes don’t fit, and normal activities are disrupted.
Your bunion will get worse if you don’t take action now. The earlier you start treatment, the more effective options there will be available to you. So don’t hesitate; call us today!
What’s Going On With My Bunion?
The short answer is that there’s an instability in the metatarsophalangeal joint (MTPJ) at the base of your big toe. The tip of the big toe itself starts to get pulled toward the other toes, while the MTPJ itself starts to “stick out” and forms an enlarged, bony bump along the inside of the foot.
This happens gradually over time, so a small bunion will eventually become a large, severe one if steps aren’t taken to address the situation. As the bunion worsens, symptoms may start to include arthritic pain and reduced range of motion, difficulty wearing regular shoes or performing certain activities, and the formation of painful corns where toes rub against each other or where the bunion rubs the inside of your shoe.
What Causes Bunions?
We can’t always say for sure what exactly causes each bunion, but there are several identified risk factors known to be influential in either causing a bunion to form or accelerating the rate at which it worsens:
Genetics. Bunions tend to run in families. You may have inherited a foot shape or structure that forces the joint at the base of the big toe to endure more weight and pressure than it’s designed to handle.
Fashion. Wearing shoes that pinch the toes together or put more weight at the front of the foot can hasten bunion formation and deterioration—plus increase the risk of corns and calluses.
Injuries and other conditions. Sometimes bunions may result as a secondary complication of an injury to the toe, or certain conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
Should I See a Doctor About My Bunion?
As mentioned above, the answer to this question is always yes.
Bunions do not get better on their own. More than that, bunions that have already started to form cannot be realigned through stretching, physical therapy, splints, or any other non-surgical means.
However, if you seek care in the earliest stages of development—ideally before you’re experiencing daily pain or difficulty performing your activities—there is an excellent chance that non-surgical treatments can substantially delay, if not outright prevent, the ultimate development of symptoms or need for surgery.
And even if you are already experiencing pain, conservative treatments may still be able to relieve it. The sooner you call us, the better your odds.
Non-Surgical Bunion Treatments
We will always attempt conservative treatment first, except in cases where pain and dysfunction are severe enough that it’s clear non-surgical remedies would be ineffective.
Possible conservative remedies might include:
Wearing shoes that properly support your feet and provide enough room for toes to move freely without being pinched.
Orthotics. The right pair can help offset any inherited foot structure or biomechanical issues that are contributing to the destabilization of the MTPJ.
Physical therapy. Although stretching and toe exercises won’t correct the bunion, they can often relieve some pain and strengthen the joint’s resistance to further destabilization.
Non-medicated bunion pads. These help alleviate pressure and friction that may contribute to corn formation.
Toe spacers or splints, which can help hold your toe in a straighter position.
If your bunion is severe, or if conservative treatments aren’t able to resolve or manage symptoms well enough to enable a good quality of life, surgery will usually be recommended.
While surgery is considered a “last resort,” that doesn’t mean it’s a bad option. On the contrary, surgery is highly successful in the vast majority of cases, and most people are very satisfied with the long-term results. Ultimately, it’s about getting you back to living life on your terms without pain!
Dr. Mark Fillari is our resident bunion surgery expert, and he has extensive experience and training in multiple bunion surgery techniques. He will carefully review the circumstances of your situation and discuss your options with you.
For a more in-depth look at bunion surgery, including what to expect from the procedure and recovery, be sure to read this blog post on the topic.
The Best Time to Address a Bunion Is Now
Whether your bunion is still in the early stages or is causing you constant agony, don’t wait another day to get a professional opinion.
Maybe you just need a little bit of preventative management, or some conservative treatments. Maybe you need surgery. Either way, we will put our training and experience to work to help give you the best possible outcome for your unique situation.
Give us a call at (609) 714-0052 or complete the contact form below to get started. We look forward to seeing you soon!