Bunions are bony bumps on the side of your foot, just at the joint where your big toe is attached to your foot. Bunions slowly develop over time and cause the big toe to turn inwards, towards the other toes. The displacement leads to abnormal motion and increased pressure on this joint. Over years, the abnormal motion and pressure slowly causes a change in the alignment of the bones causing the big toe to turn inwards, sometimes even moving on top of the toe next to it. As a consequence the joint is pushed outwards, causing the bunion bump. The same condition on the little toe is called bunionette or “tailors toe”. Bunions often lead to secondary problems, such as blisters, corns or calluses.
What if I already have a bunion?
Bunions can only be removed by surgery, but nevertheless, surgery is rarely necessary. Their progression and the symptoms can usually easily be managed and treated conservatively and even at home.
- Footwear – If you already have a bunion, wide shoes are equally important to slow down the progression as well as to ease the pain. Stretchers might also help to loosen your shoes. Buy your shoes at the end of the day when your feet are largest and let a shop assistant measure both your feet before advising you in your choice of shoes.
- Padding – If your bunion rubs against the shoe, padding might help you. Bunion pads, such as COMPEED® Bunion Plasters relieve pressure and rubbing on the bunion and thus ease the pain. They also help to prevent blisters and further hardening of the skin on the bunion.
- Orthotics – Your doctor will advise you regarding the best options to manage your bunions. Depending on the severity, insoles, toe spacers or toe supports might help position the foot correctly.
- Pain management – Bunion pain might be eased by cooling, using an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas for about 5 min at a time, or by warm soaks. Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen will also help. Seek advice from your primary care physician or your pharmacist on which medicinal treatment is best for you.
When should I seek medical advice?
You should always see your doctor if you have diabetes since your foot problems might have a different cause.
If the pain is persistent or too strong that it affects your daily activities, you should see a doctor. You should also seek medical advice, if the condition doesn’t improve after a couple of weeks of home treatment or if the condition worsens. Your doctor will advise you regarding the best options to manage your bunions. Depending on the severity, your doctor might recommend orthotics or refer you to a surgeon in order to discuss the option of surgically removing your bunion and correcting the underlying condition.