Got Bunions? A Few Important Facts to Know

Studies suggest that about 23 percent of people from 18 to 65 have bunions. What are these growths on the feet and how are they treated? Here is a look at a few important things every person with bunions should know.

Bunions are caused by several things.

Bunions can have several causation factors, such as:

  • Deformities that were present when you were born
  • Injuries to the foot or repeated foot stress
  • Genetics or having a certain foot type

Wearing tight shoes can cause a problem.

People who spend a lot of time in high heels, shoes that come to a narrow point, or shoes that are too narrow for their feet are more prone to having bunions. The pressure on the foot can cause a deformity related to the bones of the feet being pushed forward. Make sure you wear shoes that allow your toes a little room to move. There should also be a little space between the end of your big toe and the edge of your shoe.

Corns and calluses can actually be related to bunions.

If you have a lot of issues with corns and calluses, it can be a sign that you are also dealing with bunions, so take a good look at your feet. Corns and calluses are indicative of high points of localized weight or pressure, which can be related to a bunion. Some people who have bunions naturally shift weight to other parts of their feet, which can cause corns and calluses to form.

Complications of bunions are common.

If you never have any issues with your bunions, consider yourself lucky. Some people develop more serious conditions with their bunions, such as hammertoe, bursitis, or even metatarsalgia, which causes severe pain, tenderness, and swelling in the ball of your foot. Bunion surgery may be necessary if the bunion grows too large, which can happen in some cases.

Contact Us for Help with Bunions

Bunions can be unsightly and painful, and there are treatment options available with the help of a qualified podiatrist. If you have issues with bunions, reach out to us at the office of Dr. Jeffrey Lamour DPM, PA to schedule an appointment or to get further information.

Helpful Tips For Managing Your Bunions

When you’re working or going out for the evening, it’s understandable that you want to look your best. You put on nice clothes, do your hair, and don your totally uncomfortable but great-looking shoes. You hobble the day away, smiling through the pain, and wait for the moment you finally get to remove them and massage your aching feet.

Pointy-toed, too-tight shoes are more than a daily inconvenience. Over time, these shoes can actually change the shape of your feet and lead to a condition called bunions, or hallux valgus.

These painful, unsightly bumps develop on the big toe joint when pressure is repeatedly put on it, causing the big toe to lean toward the second toe. Over an extended period of time, the structure of the bone and joint changes, which results in the dreaded bunion bump.

Although anyone can get a bunion, we see it more commonly in women due to tight, pointy, high-heeled shoes. Because specific foot shapes are more prone to bunions, we also see an increase in bunion diagnoses in people with a family history of bunions.

If you frequently wear shoes that force your toes together, we strongly recommend scheduling a consultation with Jeffery W. LaMour, DPM, PA, to determine the overall condition of your feet. Once we’ve determined that you do, in fact, have a bunion, here are the next steps.

Change Your Footwear

Once you’ve developed a bunion, the first thing you should do is contact us immediately to schedule an appointment. Dr. LaMour will likely recommend that you switch your footwear right away to something with lower heels and roomier toes. Dr. LaMour may also prescribe custom orthotic inserts to help manage your bunions and minimize pain.

Splinting

If we are able to diagnose your bunions early enough, the joint still may be flexible enough to coax back into position without surgery. One of the best ways to do this is by using a splint, typically at night, to keep the toe straight and try to realign the joint.

Splinting may not be a permanent solution, especially if the bunion has been developing for a while.

Pain Management

It’s no secret that bunions are painful, especially if you are on your feet a lot. Dr. LaMour offers recommendations to help manage the pain, which typically include exercise, ice packs, warm foot soaks, and oral or injected pain medication. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen may ease bunion pain.

Surgery

When we’re able to catch bunions early, we are usually able to save you from surgery. Unfortunately, we don’t always catch them early enough and cannot avoid surgery in every case, especially in severe or long-term cases where the joint has become arthritic. When surgery is called for, Dr. LaMour uses the latest, most advanced medical equipment and techniques to realign your joint and get you back on your feet as quickly as possible.

Bunions are no fun. They’re painful, unsightly, inconvenient, and, if untreated, can lead to arthritis. Don’t wait until it’s too late to manage your bunions without surgery. If you have a history of wearing too-tight shoes or think you may be developing a bunion, please schedule a consultation with Dr. LaMour to determine the condition of your joints. We’ll help you to manage and even reverse the bunion’s effects on your feet, body, and overall health. Get ready to once again put your best foot forward.

Do I Have to Get My Bunions Removed?

If you’re having foot pain from a bunion that’s beginning to appear, there are a variety of solutions to try before even thinking of surgery. Many times bunions are hereditary, although some can result from the shoes you wear. Even if your bunions are in your genes, there are remedies to slow their progression and avoid severe discomfort.

It’s important to get treatment early. Left untreated, bunions can lead to foot deformities and additional problems that interfere with walking and daily life. Following are the most effective bunion treatments, ranging from simple home remedies to surgery, which is a last resort.

Home Remedies: Icing and Pain Relievers

Apply an ice pack at the end of a long day to ease discomfort or swelling. Take over-the-counter pain medication for temporary relief; long-term use can damage internal organs and lead to other complications.

Proper Shoes

Examine your shoe collection. If you have a lot of high heels with pointed toes and wear them every day to work, you may need to give your feet a break. Try saving the stilettos for an occasional night out and give your feet a rest the remainder of the week. Choose shoes with ample width in the toe area. Many stylish shoes now have elastic slits on the sides to allow breathing room for your foot. Open-toed shoes or sandals that have elastic or cloth on the upper part are an option for warm months. You may be able to stop your bunion’s progression by choosing better foot support.

Orthotics

Dr. LaMour examines your walking gait and determines if the way you move is contributing to the bunion. If your gait is a culprit, the shoe inserts you find in stores may cushion your walk, but they won’t correct what’s causing the bunion.

Dr. LaMour may suggest orthotics, which are prescription shoe inserts. In Dr. LaMour’s office, a machine records an impression of your foot. He sends that impression to a lab that makes the orthotics. The orthotic may have extra support for your toe joint; it’s made to help correct your gait and better support your foot.

Exercises

Dr. LaMour may prescribe daily exercises to keep your joint supple and maintain your flexibility. These are easy to do at home and can even be fun; one example is picking up marbles with your toes.

Night splints

Dr. LaMour may provide you with a night splint to keep the toe straight at night. At first it may feel odd, but just as with a retainer for your mouth, after a while it feels normal.

Injections

Depending on the case, Dr. LaMour may inject cortisone into the joint. Cortisone may provide medium to long-term pain relief. However, without remedying what is causing the bunion, the pain is very likely to recur, and the bunion may progress to a more severe stage.

Surgery is a last resort

If nothing else has helped you, surgery might be required. If your toe is severely deformed and if you’re having pain when you walk, Dr. LaMour performs a bunionectomy.

Many people who need bunion surgery are retirement age or older, having put decades of wear and tear on their feet. Bunions, if untreated, can cause hammertoe and arthritis, exacerbating your foot problems. Surgery corrects the malformation of your big toe, removing the bump. It involves correcting the position of bones, ligaments, tendons, and nerves.

Call or book an appointment online with Jeffery W. LaMour, DPM, PA for relief from your foot pain today.

When Should Bunions be Operated On?

Bunions are a very common foot problem. In fact, over 20 percent of all adults have them. A bunion happens when the big toe starts to lean toward the second toe, rather than straight ahead. This eventually results in the well-known bunion “bump” on the outside of the big toe.

Although they can cause pain and discomfort, not all bunions require surgery. Many can be effectively managed with the help of your podiatrist and proper home care.

Treating Bunions Without Surgery

If you’re not having extreme pain and are able to carry on with most of your activities, one of these options may work well for your bunion treatment:

  • Getting the proper shoes. Wearing high heels or shoes with a narrow toe box can rub against the bunion and make it worse. Choose comfortable, supportive shoes that are wide enough for your feet.
  • Cushions or pads. You may find relief if you use a special pad or cushion on the bunion to help avoid friction and irritation.
  • Changes in exercise. If certain activities such as running cause more pain, find alternatives that are easier on your feet. Swimming and biking are often good choices.
  • Ice and/or anti-inflammatory medications. Icing the area several times a day and using medications like ibuprofen can help when the pain is bothering you. This will bring down inflammation and make you more comfortable.
  • Orthotics. Your podiatrist may recommend a special insert for your shoe to help relieve bunion pain.
  • Foot exercises to avoid stiffness.
  • A foot splint you wear at night to help align the foot properly.

When Surgery is Needed

Bunion surgery may be considered if the options above aren’t working for you. People who are generally good candidates for surgery:

  • Have significant pain that interferes with daily life. For instance, you can’t walk more than a block without pain even with the correct shoes and padding.
  • Have a foot deformity that results in the big toe “crossing over” the second toe.
  • Have constant swelling in the bunion that doesn’t get better with ice and medications.
  • Can’t straighten or move their big toe.

About Bunion Surgery

As with any surgery, you should weigh the risks of surgery and the potential benefits. For people who cannot enjoy daily life due to bunion pain, surgery is often well worth the time needed. There are different techniques available to treat bunions, but the goal of any surgery should be to properly realign the toe and relieve pain. Your podiatrist can talk with you about which surgery might work for you, and what you can expect during and after the procedure.

Do you have a bump on the side of your big toe? Have you been told you have a bunion? Don’t ignore this problem, as it often gets worse without proper care. Contact our office to find out how we can help you get relief!

Common Foot Deformities: Bunions

There are a number of structural issues with the foot that can lead to pain, reduced foot function, and an unusual or unsightly appearance of the foot. Many adult foot ailments stem from structural foot deformities that were present at birth or in early childhood. But not all foot deformities are present from birth (aka, congenital), some are acquired later on in life as a result of trauma or overuse. If detected early, many foot abnormalities can be treated during childhood to minimize impact to the foot’s structure and function in adulthood.

About Bunions

One of the most common foot deformities is bunions. A bunion is a bulge that develops over the big toe joint due to a structural deformity in the joint. A bunion is also usually characterized by a deviation in the position of the big toe. The name bunion is derived from the Latin word for turnip. The medical name for a bunion is hallux valgus.

Bunions tend to occur in families, which suggests that some people are genetically predisposed to developing bunions. Bunions tend to occur more frequently among women than men. This might be due to tight-fitting women’s footwear like pointed-toe shoes and many high-heeled shoe styles.

Bunion Appearance

The main sign of a bunion is when the big toe points towards the other toes on the same foot, which may force the foot bone attached to it to stick outwards, creating a bulge.

Other visual signs and symptoms of a bunion may include:

  •        a swollen, bony bump on the outside edge of the foot
  •        changes to the shape of the foot
  •        sore, reddened or darkened skin on top of the bunion
  •        hard, callused skin underneath or on the side of the big toe
  •        reddened or thickened skin caused by the big toe and second toe overlapping

Bunion Pain

The pain associated with a bunion is caused by pressure and friction on the skin and soft tissues surrounding the bulging big toe joint. Bunion pain symptoms and side effects include:

  •        Inflammation and redness
  •        Increased tenderness or sensitivity
  •        Sharp pain or soreness
  •        A burning sensation
  •        Possible numbness

Bunion pain symptoms occur most often when wearing shoes that crowd the toes, such as shoes with a tight toe box or high heels. Spending long periods of time on your feet can also cause or increase bunion pain.

Bunion Side Effects

Over time, progression of the big toe deformity can affect the mechanics of the foot and put extra strain on the foot ligaments and muscles and pain in the forefoot and toes (metatarsalgia). A painful callus may also occur under the big toe joint.

Because the shape of the foot changes, bunions can make it difficult to find shoes that fit

If untreated, bunions can cause arthritis in the big toe and push the second toe out of place.

Bunion Treatment Options

Bunion treatment is initially conservative – changing footwear, pain medications, orthotics, taping, bunion splints, and foot exercises are usually recommended for less severe bunions. Bunion surgery may be recommended in more advanced cases. For more on how bunions are treated, read our bunion pain relief guide.

Do you suffer from bunions? Are you concerned about how to keep your bunion from getting worse? Make an appointment with Dr. Lamour today! Our Austin-area podiatry practice specializes in treating and relieving bunion pain.

Myths & Facts About Bunion Surgery

Bunion surgeries have been performed since the 19th century, but the approaches and techniques for the surgical removal of bunions have changed drastically since the procedure was first performed. In fact, there are over 100 procedures that have been developed to correct bunions since then. With the continuing evolution of in surgical bunion treatment, there’s bound to be some confusion and misinformation about the latest methods for removing bunions. Here, we offer the straight facts for some of the popular myths about bunion surgery.

Myth: Bunion surgery is extremely painful

Fact: Bunion surgery isn’t any more painful than other types of surgeries. Foot surgery may tend to result in more postoperative pain than other types of surgery because blood can rush to the area, causing a throbbing feeling. Also, since there isn’t much tissue surrounding the bones of the foot, postoperative swelling can press against the nerves, causing pain. Most patients find that pain medication and a program dedicated to pain relief makes postoperative pain tolerable.

Myth: All bunion surgeries are the same

Fact: Though all bunion surgeries involve manipulation of the bone, there are different approaches to bunion surgery that can generally be divided into 3 categories:

  • Bunion Shaving: Generally for very small bunions, some excess bone is removed from the inside of the toe. Ligament repair may also performed to realign the big toe. This type of surgery is often combined with other types of procedures.
  • Bone Cutting: With this type of surgery, the malpositioned bone is repaired by cutting and structurally changing the shape of the bone for better alignment.
  • Bone Fusion: This method realigns the entire bone through the arch by fusing a non-essential joint in the foot. The bone is realigned at the point where it deviates. 

Myth: Bunions can come back after surgery

Fact: Recurrence of a surgically removed bunion is possible, but not very likely. Most patients are satisfied with their outcome after bunion surgery. Some patients have excessive motion in the foot that may predispose them to recurrence. Another possible reason for recurrence occurs when a procedure that was performed did not best suit the severity of the particular bunion — so it’s important to have the surgery tailored for your particular bunion.

Myth: Recovery from bunion surgery takes a long time

Fact: Depending on the type of bunionectomy performed and the severity of the bunion, it may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to heal mend after bunion surgery. Age and overall health of the patient can also impact recovery time.

Myth: Bunion surgery leaves unsightly scars

Fact: With any surgery, there is the risk that a surgical incision will leave a scar. Bunionectomy incisions are usually located on the top or side of the foot. A surgeon may use a plastic surgery-type closure to keep scarring to a minimum.

Are your bunions getting worse or causing you more and more pain? Make an appointment with us today to discuss your bunion treatment and get relief from bunion pain.