If you are pre-disposed to developing bunions or already have them, our specialists at Magdalena Blasko, DPM, Inc. will be able to provide you the best treatment plan that you require. If you're ready, call us at (415) 353-5715 or book online to the right. If not, read on to see how we can help! Hope to see you soon!
A bunion is medically known as ‘Hallux valgus’. It is a bony prominence which forms on the joint at the base of your big toe on the side of the foot. When the bones in the forefoot shift, the tip of the big toe is pushed towards the lesser toes, very clearly appearing as the big toe seeming to go “in a different direction” than the others. This will force the joint at the base of the big toe to form a bony prominent callus. It’s this prominence that is known as the bunion. The skin overlying the bunion is stretched, thinned, and can even be red and painful.
Bunions develop mostly in flat footed people due to the way the bones move in the midfoot or arch area. Narrow, tight fitting shoes will aggravate the bunions or will make them symptomatic sooner. Other causes for a bunion are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, any type of arthritis that affects the joints, injuries to the leg or foot itself, leg length discrepancy and lower back problems. Long-standing inflammation in the joints, muscle injury and recurrent forceful repetitive motion in the area, like in performance sports, could be the cause of bunion formation.
It is better to seek help as early as possible because you can dramatically reduce the healing time and decrease the risk of complications. We at Magdalena Blasko, DPM, Inc. can help to relieve your discomfort and take steps to avoid complications by suggesting long term care and prevention methods.
What are the symptoms of bunions?
Bump on the inside of the foot, at the base of the big toe.
Big toe joint may develop swelling, redness or soreness.
Pain may be continuous or appear on and off.
Corns and calluses can appear when the toes rub against each other.
Movement of your big toe may be limited.
It is better to see your podiatrist, when the bump is becoming increasingly prominent, if you have ongoing pain, if the movement of your big toe is limited or if you find it difficult to find shoes that fit properly due to your bunion deformity. If your parents or grandparents have bunions, it is very likely that you will develop them as well. In this case, it’s best to be evaluated early to see if you need any support to modify your midfoot function and avoid bunions altogether.
What happens if your bunion is left untreated?
Complications can develop if you leave your bunion untreated.
Bursitis occurs when small fluid filled pads, the bursa, are formed as protection for the bone/ joint against mechanical irritation to avoid inflammation. This condition is painful. Wearing shoes will be difficult due to the accompanying tenderness.
Metatarsalgia is the pain and swelling along the ball of the foot. The joints at the base of the toes become inflamed due to malalignment and increased pressure at the bottom of the foot. Increased pressure will also reduce the fat pad at the ball of the foot, making walking difficult and painful.
Hammertoe deformity usually occurs in the lesser toes, aggravating the problems in the ball of the foot and creating significant calluses.
How is a bunion diagnosed?
Your podiatrist will diagnose a bunion clinically by careful examination of your feet. Sometimes an X-Ray will be ordered to determine the best treatment plan. Depending on the particulars of your condition, a TOG scan and balance testing will also be conducted to achieve an accurate diagnosis.
How are bunions treated?
Your podiatrist will decide the best treatment option for you depending on the severity of your bunion, your symptoms (pain being one of the major ones), and complications if you have developed any.
If your bunion is mild, conservative treatment is the best option. This means nonsurgical treatment to relieve the pain and pressure the bunion is causing as opposed to some of the more drastic measures outlined later. Conservative treatment methods we use are:
Padding – non-medicated bunion pads or cushions can be used as a buffer between your foot and shoe, which helps to ease the pain.
Bunion splint – these can be worn to prevent worsening of your bunion.
Ice application – Ice helps to reduce inflammation and relieve swelling and soreness. However, ice should not be used if you have circulation issues and reduced sensation in your feet. Check with your podiatrist if you have diabetes or if you suffer from any other chronic illnesses before you use ice packs on your bunion.
Change your shoes – We advise you to wear comfortable shoes which provide plenty of room for your toes.
Shoe inserts – We may advise you to use functional inserts which will help to distribute the pressure incurred evenly during movement of your feet. Functional inserts reduce pain and prevent worsening of the bunion. We may prescribe orthotic devices if we think it necessary.
Medication – Pain can be relieved with painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications such as Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Ibuprofen (Advil) or Naproxen (Aleve). We can offer you steroid or amniotic fluid based injections to provide pain relief.
If conservative methods fail to relieve your symptoms or if your bunion deformity is too advanced for conservative treatment, we may recommend surgery. If this is the case, we can refer you to the best surgeons we know to help you get taken care of. The surgical procedure includes the removal of swollen tissue around the big toe joint and straightening of the big toe by removal of an angular section from the bone followed by realignment of the toes and bones to correct the abnormal angle.
Following surgery, we will teach you how to choose well fitting shoes without squeezing or pressing any part of your foot. Carefully chosen shoes with a wide toe box and the avoidance of shoes with pointed toes go a long way towards bunion prevention.
If you believe you have a bunion or bunions, do not ignore it. Drop in to Magdalena Blasko, DPM, Inc. for a customized treatment plan and allow us the privilege of taking care of you.