Bunions are an extremely common foot ailment most easily recognized by the large bump that forms on the side of the big toe. This bump forms due to abnormal forces on the big toe and can be red, painful, swollen or cause no discomfort at all. Genetics, shoe gear, trauma, arthritis and neuromuscular conditions can all contribute to the formation of a bunion.
Let’s take a look at two patients:
-Patient A - Patient A is a 40 year old female with no family history of bunions. She wears athletic shoes with custom orthotics and avoids high heels. She has no history of trauma, arthritis or neuromuscular conditions. Her primary forms of exercise are biking and swimming.
-Patient B - Patient B is a 40 year old female whose mother and grandmother have both had bunions. She has no history of trauma, arthritis or neuromuscular conditions. She often wears high heels and sandals to work. Her primary form of exercise is jogging through her neighborhood.
Based on the above information, who is more likely to develop a bunion? If you guessed patient B, you are correct! Patient B is at a higher risk to develop a bunion because of the number of risk factors she has. Patient B could decrease her risk by wearing more sensible shoe gear, getting custom orthotics and participating in more low-impact exercise. Jogging on a hard surface, for example a sidewalk or street imparts more ground reactive force to the bones of the foot and can cause long-term damage.
The treatment of a bunion depends on the severity of the deformity. During the early stages of a bunion conservative measures may be used, for example orthotics or changing shoe gear. A late stage bunion (characterized by increased pain, bigger bump, etc.) is best corrected with a surgical procedure. The goal of bunion surgery is to realign the bones of the big toe and restore normal forces to the foot.
The first step to relieving a painful bunion is to make an appointment with your podiatrist. As with any foot or heel issue, please consider making an appointment with Dr. Gary N. Friedlander or Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona. We want to make sure you're back on your feet in no time!