Monday, May 14, 2012

Bunions Aren’t Fun

Dr Henri Lelièvre (Hallux valgus, Bunion)
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The word itself may sound a little silly, but the condition is not. It is aggravating, may become extremely painful and change the way you live your life.

A bunion is a deformity of the big toe joint. As the joint enlarges it forces the toe out of alignment and pushes it toward the second toe. The bony protrusion at the base of the big toe then becomes a point of friction and pressure as the area rubs against shoes. This condition can be very painful, and sometimes lead to other conditions like hammertoes. The dynamics of taking a step transfers the weight distribution from heel through arch and mid-foot to the ball of the foot, which then flexes to push off for the next step. Since the joint of the big toe is in use with every step, the enlargement continues, pain worsens and can lead to other conditions such as arthritis or bursitis.

Inappropriate shoes are believed to be a major cause of bunions. Shoes that are too narrow or have a poorly shaped toe box that squeezes the foot are poor choices. Approximately one-third of the western population is affected by bunions and women are affected more often than men.

Early symptoms to look for include:

•    Red and calloused skin on the inside edge of big toe joint

•    Pain and pressure from shoes makes it worse

•    Formation of a bony bump at the side base of the big toe

•    Big toe begins to angle toward other toes

In many instances, with proper home treatment, symptoms may be relieved. Further intervention is not required, but since a bunion is a deformity, it will not entirely disappear. Therefore, it is important to avoid wearing confining shoes that cause pressure on the affected area.

Home treatment suggestions include:

•    Wide toed shoes that accommodate the deformity

•    Foam or felt padding that protects the bunion

•    Orthotic devices to help position the joint correctly for mobility

•    Specific exercises to prevent stiffening of the joint

•    Nighttime splints to help align toes and joint

If conservative methods do not bring pain relief, you may be a candidate for surgery, but Dr. Boucher will need to determine your exact course of treatment and discuss it with you. There is no magic or sudden cure for bunions and recovery can be a lengthy process. Your treatment will depend on the size and degree of misalignment along with severity of pain.

Seek treatment early for bunions and other foot conditions, especially if you have diabetes. Call Dr. Boucher at (203) 238-3668 for an appointment. She wants you to be able to live pain free.

Dr. Tina A. Boucher, DPM
Central Connecticut Foot Care, LLC
Order your free copy of our books "Why Do My Feet Hurt?" and "Heal My Heel!" today! Copies will be sent to Connecticut residents only.
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