Technology shifts. Trends shift. One thing that shouldn’t shift is your big toe, but a bunion is the often-uncomfortable result of just that happening.
Whether you are beginning to see the signs of a developing bunion or have been dealing with one for years, taking the right action to address the condition can make a world of difference. Total Foot and Ankle is well equipped to help patients of all ages manage and treat a bothersome bunion.
How Does a Bunion Form?
A bunion is a large, bony bump at the base of your big toe. It develops as a result of your big toe shifting out of place.
As the big toe moves inward on the foot, up against the neighboring toe, the joint at the base of the big toe (aka the metatarsophalangeal or MTP joint) will angle outward and grow larger, forming that iconic bump.
By the way, the big toe isn’t the only place this can happen. The joint of the smallest toe can also shift on the other side of the foot. This is often referred to as a “bunionette” or “tailor’s bunion.”
So what actually causes the toe to shift this way? Is it all in poor shoe choices?
Not entirely, but they certainly don’t help.
The debate is still ongoing as to what exactly causes bunions, but consensus leans toward heredity as a primary cause. If bunions run in your family, odds tend to be higher that you may develop one, too. Having conditions that cause joint inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can also be a lending factor.
Tight, narrow shoes might not cause bunions, exactly, but they can absolutely make existing bunions worse. This does not have to be high heels, either. Any shoe that has a small, narrow toe box that forces the toes into an abnormal position can cause bunions to become progressively worse. This includes men’s shoes.
What Can Be Done About a Bunion?
A bunion can cause many uncomfortable symptoms. These can include:
- Formation of calluses or corns
- Stiffness and decreased range of motion in the big toe
When treating a bunion, our primary goals are to manage these symptoms and keep the bunion from becoming worse. If we can do that with conservative measures, we will!
Non-surgical treatments that can be effective for bunion management include changes in footwear, stretching exercises to strengthen the tendons and muscles surrounding the big toe, custom orthotics to take excess pressure off the MTJ joint, and padding to reduce friction and avoid skin irritation.
If these measures aren’t effective in providing the relief you need, surgery may then be considered as an option. It is almost never a first choice when conservative methods remain a possibility.
There are more than 100 surgical bunion procedures, each with the objective of relieving pain and/or restoring alignment to the joint. Different procedures involve shaving away the bump, cutting into the bone to realign it, or affixing plates and screws to hold the joint in place.
If surgery becomes a consideration, we will be sure to fully explain all the ins, outs, pros and cons of the procedures that are most likely to benefit your particular situation and relieve your pain. We want to ensure you have full knowledge and confidence before moving forward.
Bunion Treatment in Oklahoma City and Enid
Regardless of how long you have had a bunion or how severe it may be, the worst thing you can do for it is take no action at all. There is always something that can be done to help find relief or correction, and our doctors will help set you on the right path!
Schedule an appointment with us by calling (405) 947-8041 for our Oklahoma City office or (580) 237-3338 for our Enid office.