A bunion is a swollen bump on the first joint at the base of the big toe, just where your big toe and foot meet.
Common symptoms of bunions include toe deformity, swelling, stiffness, redness, and even numbness. Bunions can be uncomfortable, painful, and prevent you from wearing certain types of shoes.
Read on to learn the causes and signs of bunions, as well as if surgery is required.
What Causes a Bunion?
The most common causes of bunions include:
- Chronic inflammatory disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
- Frequently wearing shoes that are too tight for your foot shape, especially near the toe area.
- Feet that are shaped in a way that makes your toes more susceptible to bunions.
Anatomy of the Big Toe Joint
Each of your big toes has two joints: the metatarsophalangeal joint and the interphalangeal joint.
A bunion occurs on the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint. The reason why bunions can be so uncomfortable and painful during extended walking and standing periods is this: the MTP is responsible for the extension and flexion of your toe. When it’s stiff and swollen, your toe won’t move correctly, which will result in pain. Having a bunion also makes the foot wider, which can make it more difficult to fit in shoes.
Bunion Nerve Pain
Sometimes, bunions can result in numbness in the big toe area. This numbness is caused by nerve irritation in the big toe.
In case of severe pain, non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs prescribed by your doctor may help. It could be helpful to combine prescribed treatments with common home remedies, such as ice packs.
Bunion Foot Surgery
Although many people find relief in wearing broader, comfortable shoes and following their medical treatment, a bunion foot surgery may be the best alternative for some individuals.
Surgery is the only way to reverse a bunion, but not everyone needs surgery. Surgery is only recommended if conservative treatments do not help and pain and/or disability continues. Although there is a cosmetic component to bunion surgery (because the toe will appear straighter after), this should not be the only reason to undergo surgical correction.
Depending on the severity of the deformity and the symptoms, talking to a podiatrist about a potential surgery is necessary, especially if:
- Walking or standing results in foot pain.
- You can’t move or bend your big toe.
- Even with treatment, your bunion doesn’t seem to get better.
Whether for medical advice, treatment, or potential surgery, you’ll want an experienced podiatrist on your side. If you’re looking for a podiatrist in Alexandria VA, request an appointment at District Foot and Ankle today.