Bunions are swollen, bony and trigger discomfort and swelling. Many people believe they are caused by tottering around in high heels. But the fact is, those stilettos may not totally be to blame for that unwelcome bump near your big toe. Read on to discover the most common symptoms and causes of these joint deformities along with advice on how to treat them.
What are common bunion symptoms?
If you have a bunion, finding shoes that fit properly may become a struggle. This is because bunions often change the shape of the foot, making the foot bone stick outwards. The skin on and around the bunion may become sore and callused. You may also experience swelling and pain near the joint in your big toe, especially when wearing shoes.
What causes bunions?
It’s still not known what actually causes these swollen bumps, but several factors can make them worse. Bunions run in families and are more common in women than men. People with very flexible joints and those who wear poorly fitting shoes are more likely to develop them. Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and gout can also cause bunions.
How can you avoid getting bunions on your feet?
If bunions run in your family, there’s no harm in getting your feet checked out sooner rather than later. Your GP can refer you to a chiropodist but you may need to go private if you’re not displaying any signs of having bunions yet.
If you currently do a lot of running, you may be better cutting down and doing a low-impact form of exercise instead. Investing in some custom orthotic insoles to use when running (and going about your day to day life) can help reduce your risk of developing bunions too.
How are bunions treated?
If you suffer from bunions on your feet, you don’t need to just accept the pain and discomfort they cause as there are things you can try.
- Ice and paracetamol – Wrapping some ice in a tea towel and applying it your bunions can bring temporary relief but you might want to take some paracetamol too.
- Wear shoes that fit properly – Say goodbye to stilettos and instead wear shoes that are flat or only have a low heel.
- Bunion pads and plasters – You can pick these up from any pharmacy or supermarket. Stick them over your bunions and they’ll stop any rubbing when you’re wearing shoes.
- Orthotics insoles – These fit inside your shoes and are designed to help the bones in your feet move into the right position, which should stop your bunions from throbbing as much. However, they do take up room in your shoes so you’ll probably need wide fitting shoes for them to fit comfortably.
Do you need surgery?
If you want to get rid of your bunions permanently, surgery is the only option. Doctors will only usually suggest surgery if you’re in a great deal of pain and if the non-surgical treatments listed above haven’t worked. There are over 150 different types of bunion surgery but the most common involve cutting out the bunion, removing bones from the surrounding toes and inserting screws, wires or pins to hold everything together.
Recovery can take three or more months and you’ll be immobile for most of this time as your feet will be swollen and you’ll need to keep them raised. Bunion surgery is successful for around 80% of people but there can be complications for 1 in 10. You may still be left in pain, your bunions could come back and you might need further surgery.
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