The word "bunion" sounds funny, but masks how debilitating this condition can be. Affecting mainly women who regularly wear heels, bunions are essentially severely damaged joints in the big toe. The big toe is used extensively for walking and maintaining balance, and the loss of function in the big toe can make any upright activity torture. If that doesn't sound like much fun to you, here are some ways to avoid developing bunions, or treat them once they've appeared.
An Ounce of Prevention
For most of human history shoes were a luxury. Feet have evolved with that in mind, and any shoe that affects the shape of your foot is more likely to cause bunions. No shoe is more guilty of this than the high heel favored by women the world over.
Heels press your toes together, bending the big toe in toward the other toes. It then puts enormous pressure on the ball of the foot and joints of the toe by forcing your weight forward. Heels are terrible for every joint in your lower body, but the big toe suffers the most. A bunion forms when the bones are forced into an awkward position for too long. They then try to compensate for the pressure by forming a hard lump of bony tissue at the base of the big toe, which keeps your toe bent outward. Avoiding this is simple: be barefoot as often as possible, and if you're going to wear heels, wear them sparingly and for a short duration.
A Pound of Cure
If it's too late to prevent bunions for you, the good news is there are effective treatments available. Home treatments include:
- Icing the painful joint
- Wrapping the foot or splinting the affected joint
- Painkillers, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen
- Padded shoe inserts
If these treatments fail, surgery could be performed to:
- Straighten the angle of the big toe
- Remove part of the overgrown bone to increase comfort
- Fuse the joint permanently to prevent the bunion from returning
Bunions might not be fun, but with some forethought you can prevent them, or, failing that, you have options to alleviate your suffering. Living with a bony outgrowth on your foot is miserable, so just remember to wear sensible shoes, go barefoot whenever you can, and see your doctor like one from Aboite Podiatry Associates PC if you begin developing pain in the joints of your big toe, and you'll keep your life bunion-free.