All About Bunions: Causes, Symptoms, and When to Call A Doctor

Common foot problems such as bunions can be uncomfortable in daily life, even to the point of inhibiting one’s ability to perform daily functions such as sitting and standing. The good news is that bunions do not often require medical treatment and can easily be prevented and treated. Bunions are the result of little bones in the foot moving out of place. This movement causes inflammation and swelling, causing foot pain when walking or wearing tight-fitting shoes. 

What Causes Bunions?

When a big toe is pushed over toward the other toes, the little bones in it can slip out of place, forcing the joint (where the big toe connects to the foot) to stick out of the side of the foot. Bunions can be caused or aggravated by arthritis or other inflammatory diseases. The exact cause of why bunions happen is not currently known, but some believe it may result from genetics and the foot’s shape. Footwear that is uncomfortably tight and high-heeled shoes may also cause the onset or worsening of this common foot problem.

How Do I Know If I Have Bunions?

If your foot is swollen and sore on the big toe joint, the pain is likely caused by bunions. They can also start on the pinky toe joint. These smaller forms are called bunionettes. You may also find that some of the symptoms in the following list are also present:

  • A hard bulge on the outside of the big toe bottom joint
  • Painful or restricted movement in the big toe
  • Calluses on the second and third toes where they are squished together due to the disjointed form of the big toe
  • Pain or soreness in your toe or the inflamed joint

It is important to remember that you can often treat the pain and soreness you feel at home. Most bunions can be prevented and heal on their own when properly cared for.

How to Prevent Bunions

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Taking steps to avoid bunions will help prevent them from forming in the first place, so you never have to deal with the pain and discomfort they cause. Some things to avoid are:

  • High-heeled shoes may crowd toes and put you at risk.
  • Ill-fitting shoes that compress the big toe into unnatural positions.
  • Being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis may increase your chances of developing bunions.
  • It is commonly believed that some people may be genetically predisposed to develop bunions due to their unique foot structure.

Wearing correctly fitting footwear is the best way to prevent their formation. Choose shoes with a roomy foot box and space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe to avoid tight, uncomfortable positions for toes. 

When to Call A Doctor

Bunions usually resolve on their own when patients wear appropriate footwear and rest. Resting and massaging them can help to relieve symptoms and retrain the foot back into a normal position. 

Suppose your bunions are interfering with everyday life in significant ways, or you are unable to find shoes that fit because of them. In that case, it may be time to see a podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon about your foot problem. While home remedies are most often all that is needed to relieve bunions, there are some cases where surgery may be necessary. You can read more in our article: Elective Bunion Surgery: To Do or Not To Do. 

If you find yourself with painful bunions and would like to speak to a professional for help, Best Foot Doctor would be happy to help. Please contact us to schedule an appointment. Our staff is experienced and friendly, and we would be honored if you trusted us with your care.

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