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Bunions are a common foot complaint and one that should be addressed as soon as possible to avoid the problem getting worse.
However, bunions are often dismissed or ignored until the problem starts having an affect physically (and for women, fashionably). What we mean by that is; bunions can not only cause pain but can get to the point where they dictate the shoes you can wear. For ladies this often means that those much loved high heels and other fashionable shoes are a thing of the past.
People often assume nothing can be done to help this condition, but in fact bunions are treatable.
So what are bunions and are you at risk?
Bunions are a prominent or protruding bone joint where the big toe meets the foot. Untreated they can lead to constant pain and will only grow or protrude more over time.
Bunions are in part hereditary and in part from the environment, meaning what you do with your feet and what shoes you wear i.e. how much stress you put through your big toe joint is a contributing factor. For women, unfortunately, wearing high heels frequently can aggravate the problem. Arthritis, weak ligaments in the foot which usually hold the bones tight, and a tendency to roll the foot when walking can also cause them. Bunions leave the joint vulnerable to arthritis.
Although bunions are a common problem, they should be addressed as early as possible. There is no cure, it’s about reducing the symptoms and slowing degeneration. Surgery, which is usually only recommended in severe cases often does not cure the problem, it just reduces the size of the bunion, this is why treating bunions early is the best option.
Seeking proper medical advice from a Sports Podiatrist whom specializes in musculoskeletal issues as soon as there is any evidence of bunions is paramount.
Swollen lump at the base of the big toe joint; localised pain is common and the lump may become numb but also make walking painful. The joint is enlarged (due to new bone formation) and the toe is often misaligned. It can be related to inflammation of the nearby bursa(bursitis) or degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis). Pressure sores or ulcers can develop.
Bone misalignment - the big toe pushes towards its neighbouring toes while one of the bones in the middle of the foot pushes in the opposite direction, towards the other foot.
There are a number of different treatment options for bunions.
Padded inserts or broadfitting shoes can alleviate pressure on the joint and stop pain and ulceration. Ice packs and anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, help to bring down swelling.