Often times when someone we just meet finds out we are podiatrists they immediately take off their shoes and ask, "what do you think of this?" Many times that person is pointing to a large bump on the side of big toe where it joins the foot. We laugh when they say, "my grandma had these and now I do! What is it?"
By far the most likely diagnosis is a 'bunion." A bunion is a bony prominence of a long bone in the foot. This bone is the 1st metatarsal. It can develop a prominence in a variety of ways. The bone can appear "bent" or the bone can become slightly dislocated, misaligning it in the foot. Either way the end of the bone no longer supports the big toe as it should and the toe turns toward the other toes. This not only accentuates the prominence but can be painful and limit how the foot functions with each step. This problem gets worse over time especially if left untreated.
The 1st metatarsal or the bone that makes a bunion becomes mal-aligned for a variety of reasons. The most common is genetics. Genetics determine how the foot develops in addition to how we take each step. How someone walks over the period of many years can eventually cause this change, especially when walking in high heels for much of a lifetime. So when it comes down to it we can thank our grandmothers and grandfathers for this common foot problem.
Anyone with a painful bunion should see a podiatrist, especially if that person is diabetic or has any form of neuropathy. The podiatrist is the premier authority on bunion treatment plans. Comfort can be obtained with a custom shoe insert, correct shoe choices, and other conservative therapies. If the area hurts bad enough and conservative treatments fail then simple surgical procedures may be considered. Surgery will remove the bony enlargement, restore the normal alignment of the toe joint, and relieve pain.
If you or someone you know has a painful bunion consider making an appointment to visit Dr. Jay Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona. Relief from pain and increase in foot function can be obtained.