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Beating Bunions

  • Category: Foot & Ankle
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Alexander H. Tischler, MD

Anyone who has ever suffered with a bunion knows that, despite its peculiar name, bunions are no laughing matter. A bony growth that forms at the base of the big toe, bunions develop when the big toe angles in toward the rest of the toes. There may be a callus covering the bump, along with swelling, redness, or pain at the base of the big toe and in the ball of the foot. Walking becomes difficult and painful.

While some people are more prone to developing bunions due to heredity, they are more often caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes or high heels that shift weight to the toes. Very narrow-toed shoes will force the big toe out of alignment over time, putting extra pressure on the joint. Other conditions that can lead to the development of bunions include injury, loose ligaments in the foot, arthritis and hammer toe.

Bunions rarely get better on their own. And while conservative treatment such as corrective devices (orthoses) and pain medication can help relieve symptoms of a mild bunion, surgery is usually the most effective solution for severe deformities. It helps restore normal alignment, which relieves the pressure on the toe joint. Surprisingly, there are over 100 different techniques used during bunion surgery, and some may be used in combination during a single surgery. Consultation with an orthopedic surgeon specializing in the foot and ankle is imperative to determine the type of surgery that will be most effective for your unique condition.

When is surgery indicated? If you have already made changes in your footwear, are using pads to cushion the area and are still limited in your daily activities because of the pain, surgery may be the best option. The orthopedic specialists at Newport Orthopedic Institute can help you decide if surgical intervention is the best treatment for you.