A painful lump of bone that develops on the joint at the base of the big toe is known as a bunion. Bunions form when the normal movement and balance of forces exert the foot tendons. The normal movement of tendons becomes disrupted and instability of the joint occurs. As a result, a deformity pops up.
When a bunion is left untreated, it becomes excessively painful and inhibits mobility. Since bunions develop on the joint at the base of the big toe, there may be difficulty with walking or balancing when a bunion develops. The MTP (metatarsophalangeal) joint is responsible for carrying much of the body’s weight during walking, which can be impacted by the pain of an untreated bunion.
Bunions may also occur on the outside of the foot, along the outer layer of the little toe. These bunions are smaller in size and often referred to as bunionettes. Smaller bunions should be treated similarly to large MTP joint related bunions to relieve pressure and pain.
Symptoms of a Bunion
The most common symptom of a bunion is localized pain. When a bunion forms there are visible signs. The development of a hard bump on the base of the big toe or along the edge of the foot is the first detector. Accompanied with the bump are redness, pain, inflammation, and swelling at the bump site. There may also be pain around the MTP joint.
Corns and other troublesome irritations may develop on the first and second toes due to the friction caused by the bunion. Hard calluses and painful sores on areas rubbed by the bunion are common.
Due to the pain of the bunion, there is also a restricted motion of the big toe. When a bunion sits at the base of the joint, it is painful to move the toe. Difficulty walking and wearing shoes are common.
If pain persists, podiatric attention should be pursued. Bunions tend to increase in size over time and get larger the longer they are left untreated. When a bunion is left without treatment, non-surgical procedures become less of an option. It is better to have the bunion assessed during early stages of development.
How to Prevent Bunions from Forming
The progression of bunions may be slowed or prevented from developing if precautions are taken. Prevention measures include:
- Avoiding shoes with a narrow boxed-in toe space. Shoes that force the toes into a tight and narrow space rub and cause friction on the big toe joints. This problem is common in high-heels.
- If your foot is excessively flat, be sure to wear shoes that are supportive to the arch. Your podiatrist may be able to assist you with supportive shoes or custom orthotics that help prevent bunion formation.
- At the first sign of bunion development, seek early treatment to slow the progression of growth.
When early treatment and prevention measures fail to slow the growth of a bunion, aggressive treatment may be required. Surgery is a last resort, but may be required to relieve recurrent pain. Surgery removes the bony enlargement and restores alignment of the toe joint.
If you have been experiencing foot pain schedule an evaluation call Shelby Foot and Ankle at (586) 580-3728. Let our gentle and compassionate doctors diagnose, treat, and care for you and your entire family; one step at a time.