What are bunions and how can they be treated?
If you notice a hard, bony bump forming next to your big toe joint that is changing the shape of your foot, you are most likely developing a bunion. Bunions are common in adults, especially women. Those over the age of 65 are at even greater risk of developing one.
What is a bunion?
If your big toe naturally leans towards your other toes, odds are that as you age, the base of the big toe will push against the bone of the first metatarsal (the bone just behind the big toe). This misalignment forms a bunion, a hard, bony bump that is often painful and leaves you with tender red skin and inflammation. Bunion deformity will become progressively worse if left untreated.
There are a number of different reasons someone could develop a bunion including:
- Inherited foot type. If you’re relatively flatfooted, as you age your foot can continue to flatten and cause a misalignment and thereby the development of a bunion.
- Foot injury. If a previous injury caused damage to the structure of the foot and it didn't heal properly, you are also at risk of developing a bunion.
- Congenital birth defect. Bunions are hereditary and you can be born with the predisposition to develop one. Poor and weak foot structure can also lead to bunions.
- Arthritis. Someone with an inflammatory form of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis is also at high risk.
Treatment optionsIf you notice that you’re developing a bunion, one of the first things you should do is change your shoes. Opt for more comfortable footwear that provides plenty of space for your toes. To help alleviate pain and reduce stress on the bunion, ask your podiatrist to show you how to tape your foot. You can also wear over the counter bunion pads, which try to mimic taping.
At Dalhousie Station Foot Clinic, we offer several treatment options for those experiencing painful bunion symptoms. A podiatrist will begin by examining your bunion to determine if it’s the result of an underlying condition before choosing the best treatment option for you.
Orthotics or padded shoe inserts can help with distributing pressure evenly. Wearing custom orthotics has been proven to prevent bunions from getting worse.
In the past, invasive surgery was the conventional method for treating severe bunion misalignments. Fortunately, there are now effective non-surgical alternative treatments available. Depending on the type of bunion, shockwave therapy may be an option to consider. This non-invasive method targets the bunion calcium deposits and the swelling in the joint capsule. If your bunion cannot be completely removed, shockwave therapy can help alleviate some of the painful symptoms.
Consult your local Calgary podiatrist at Dalhousie Station Foot Clinic to learn how to better manage your pain, and if shockwave therapy is the right treatment for you.