Bunions are a common foot condition that are often misconceived. People often unnecessarily suffer the pain from bunions before considering treatment.
A simplified description of a bunion is a bump on the side of the big toe. But a bunion is much more complex. Also called hallux valgus or hallux abducto valgus, the visible bump actually results from structural changes in the bones of the forefoot.
Normally, the big toe points straight ahead. In the case of a bunion, however, the big toe leans toward the second toe, causing misalignment of the bones and producing the visible bump.
A bunion is most commonly caused by a genetic predisposition to a faulty mechanical structure of the foot. The bunion itself is not inherited, but rather the foot type that increases the likelihood of developing a bunion.
Wearing shoes with a narrow toe box will not cause bunions. However, the deformity may progressively worsen, and symptoms can appear sooner.
Symptoms that occur at the site of the bunion include:
Wearing shoes with a tight toe box, such as narrow shoes or high heels will cause symptoms to arise. The shoe type is possibly one reason women experience symptoms more often than men. Standing or walking for extended periods of time can also worsen a person's symptoms.
A bunion is clearly visible at the base of the big toe or side of the foot. Dr. Radovic, however, might take x-rays to determine the degree of deformity and the changes that have occurred.
Since bunions are progressive, they will not resolve without treatment, and often worsen over time. Some bunions deform more quickly than others. After evaluating your bunion, Dr. Radovic will develop a course of treatment effective for your needs.
Some instances only require the bunion to be monitored. To prevent damage to the joint, Dr. Radovic periodically evaluates and x-rays the foot. But many other cases require some type of treatment. These early treatments are meant to relieve bunion pain, not reverse the deformity itself:
Proper shoes: To alleviate bunion pain, wear shoes with a wide toe box and avoid high heels and pointed toes.
Padding: Bunion shields provide padding and help reduce pain. Padding can be dispensed by Dr. Radovic or bought from a drug store.
Activity modifications: Activities that require long periods of standing aggravate bunion pain.
Oral medications: Dr. Radovic may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen to relieve pain and inflammation.
Icing: Applying an ice pack for 20 minute intervals throughout the day lessens swelling and pain.
Injection therapy: A corticosteroid injection is a rare but effective method of treating the inflamed bursa, or fluid-filled sac around a joint.
Orthotic devices: Custom fit orthotics may sometimes be recommended as part of the treatment plan.
Surgery is necessary when bunion pain interferes with daily activities and non-surgical treatments have been ineffective. By consulting Dr. Radovic, you can decide if surgery is an option for you.
There is a variety of surgical procedures to treat bunions. The goal of surgery is to reduce pain by removing the protruding bone, correct the foot's mechanical structure and correct any soft tissue changes that might have occurred.
Dr. Radovic will consider a series of factors when choosing the procedure or procedures for your case. These factors include the extent of deformity based on x-ray results, your age and your activity level. Patients will recover at different rates depending on the procedure or combination of procedures performed.