A bunion is a bulge of bone that juts out from the inner line of the foot near the base of the big toe. Bunions form when the bone of the big toe pushes the largest bone in the foot (known as the first metatarsal) out away from the foot. Bunions generally run in families, but they're more prominent in people who have arthritis and in people who wear shoes that unnaturally narrow the foot. Perhaps this is why bunions are more common in women than in men: because women tend to wear narrow fitting high-heeled shoes that put extra weight on the ball of the foot and big toe.
Can you treat a bunion without surgery?
Bunions can't be reversed without surgery. Once a bunion has formed, the only way to truly fix the problem is by either using surgery to realign the joint, remove the bunion or insert a pin. However, many bunions never become so severe that surgery is warranted. Instead, people who have started to develop a bunion can make lifestyle adjustments that will slow or stop the development of the bunion.
What can you do to stop the development of a bunion?
There are many things that you can do to slow the development of bunions. For example:
- Wear shoes that don't narrow your toes. Shop at shoe stores where store clerks measure your feet and help you pick shoes based on the actual width of your feet. Shoes that narrow your toes unnaturally will position your big toe to push the first metatarsal out farther, which can exacerbate your problem.
- Control your weight gain. The more weight you put on the balls of your feet, the more likely you are to develop a painful bunion. Controlling your weight will help prevent the development of a bunion.
- Take anti-inflammatory drugs. Talk to your doctor. If your doctor approves, take ibuprofen on a daily basis to help stop inflammation of the joint and curb the development of your bunion.
- Wear special inserts in your shoes. Gel-filled and moleskin inserts can help position your feet correctly in your shoe, preventing your foot from narrowing at the toes.
How will you know if bunion surgery is necessary?
Bunion surgery becomes necessary when taking the above measures can't make your feet comfortable anymore. If you're having a hard time walking, wearing shoes or controlling the pain of your bunion, talk to a podiatrist like Aboite Podiatry Associates PC about getting your bunions surgically removed.