What You Need to Know About Bunions

Feet with bunions

A bunion basically looks like a seemingly negligible bump found on the side of your big toe. Essentially, this bump is caused by a deformity in the foot bones, causing the big toe to point towards the second toe rather than staying straight.

Bunions do not always cause pain but will gradually cause crowding of the toes, which can then lead to pain and a potentially permanent deformity.

How Do Bunions Develop?

Bunions develop over time due to pressure on the joint of your big toe. This pressure is typically due to changes in your foot anatomy, causing you to unevenly shift your weight on your foot’s joints and tendons.

Studies suggest that bunions are usually hereditary and display a genetic predisposition to specific structures and shapes of feet. Also, there are certain situations or conditions that could contribute to developing bunions, such as:

  • Foot injuries.
  • Low arches, flat feet and loose tendons and joints.
  • Psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout.
  • Some neuromuscular disorders, including Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and cerebral palsy.
  • Some connective tissue disorders like Down syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Marfan syndrome.

Can You Treat Bunions?

Treating a bunion involves conservative and non-surgical treatments that are focused on easing symptoms and necessarily correcting it. These non-invasive treatments include the following:

  • Wearing bunion pads, bunions splints and toe spacers.
  • Wearing shoes that have ample toe room.
  • Wearing padded shoe inserts and similar orthotic devices to help spread pressure evenly when walking.
  • Avoiding things that exacerbate pain, such as wearing fitted shoes and participating in certain sports.
  • Applying ice packs or warm soaks.
  • Taking NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen or ibuprofen to ease the pain.
  • Cortisone injections.

When Surgery Might Be Necessary

Doctor checking a foot

In the event that you still experience pain, or your pain worsens even after trying the non-surgical treatments above, it’s time to visit a podiatry clinic here in Singapore to determine if you need surgery. If your bunion is mild, your podiatrist might recommend bunionectomy.

During the procedure, your surgeon will shave off the bunion and then realign your big toe’s ligaments, tendons and muscles. If you have a moderately deformed bunion, your surgeon will likewise need to get rid of the bone near your metatarsal head and realign it.

If your bunion is severe, your surgeon will go a step further and get rid of excess bone on the first metatarsal head, plus some bone located at the base of the first metatarsal. Next, your surgeon will adequately align and secure your metatarsal bone in place using pins or screws and then correct your ligaments, tendons and muscles.

Left untreated, your small bunion will grow bigger and bigger and make walking painful and very challenging for you. There is also a chance that your big toe might extend below or over your second toe. Worse, an untreated bunion could lead to bursitis, metatarsalgia or hammertoe.

With this in mind, visit a podiatrist if your bunion is becoming more and more painful and inflamed. He or she will work with you to figure out the best treatment for you.