People often refer to any bump on their foot as a bunion but it’s really a bump or bony enlargement that forms at your big toe joint. It can become painful and, if left untreated, may lead to other problems like hammertoes, corns, and calluses. It may even cause the big toe to shift and move under the second toe. Medically, this is known as hallux valgus, and it affects women more often than men and becomes more common in people over 65.
Arthritis, tight shoes and stresses on your foot can all be causes for bunions. They can also be inherited, so if your grandmother had bunions, there’s a good chance you’ll get them too.
While the bunion alone can become large and unattractive, it can also make wearing stylish shoes painful and prevent you from doing in your favorite activities. As this happens, there can be increased swelling and pain around the joint. Sometimes it even causes pain when you move your big toe. This will gradually get worse and may lead to arthritis in the joint.
Bunions will not heal themselves, so don’t ignore them. If seen and treated early enough, bunions respond to conservative care which may slow progression and delay the need for surgery.
Bunions will not heal themselves so don’t ignore them. If caught early enough, bunions often respond to conservative care. The goal is to relieve the pain and slow the process.
Surgery is an option when your bunion is painful or there is damage to the cartilage in the joint. Today, advanced surgical techniques, combined with specific criteria allows our doctors to individualize treatment for each patient. The procedures are done on an out-patient basis meaning you are in and out of the surgi-center on the same day.
Most of the time there is very little discomfort after surgery, and if so, is often less than the pain of the bunion that caused you to have the surgery in the first place. You should be able to walk on the repaired foot after surgery with a special boot or shoe. In some cases, a non-weight bearing or semi-weight bearing boot or cast may be needed for splinting and protecting the foot.
Depending on your job, you can usually return to work within three to five days. Note, even if you can return to work, if your bunion was on your right foot, you’ll need someone to drive for you. For those who work out, you can continue with upper body exercises right away and progress to a recumbent bicycle as soon as the swelling goes down. Other weight bearing exercises vary from patient to patient, but most are back to all regular activities within eight to twelve weeks.
Bunions can affect your whole life. If they limit your activities, prevent you from doing your best at work or make you feel like you can’t go out as often as you’d like, you should seek help.