What You Need to Know about Painful Bunions

Have you started to notice your big toe seems to be turning inward toward your other toes? Do you have difficulty walking because of this change or the resulting pain?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, the culprit could be a bunion.

Upwards of 60% of the population – 23% under age 65 and 36% over the age of 65 – suffer from bunions.

What is this condition and why do so many people get it?

What Are Bunions and Why Are They So Painful?

A bunion is a bony bump at the base of the big toe. It forms at the joint, where the toe bends naturally. Over time, the bump can grow. When this happens, it can be difficult to find comfortable shoes. And every time you take a step, your body weight puts pressure right on the bunion.

As you can imagine, this can become a very painful condition.

With time, the bunion rubs against shoes, causing a callous. And the toe will slowly and steadily start to turn inward. Not only is this painful, it causes many people embarrassment because their feet don’t look “normal.”

It’s important to note, while the bunion starts at the joint, it isn’t attached to the joint. Instead, the bunion grows out of the big toe bone. It is, in essence, extra bone which is growing to protect the MTP joint, or the metatarsophalangeal joint.

At times, a fluid-filled sac can form around the bunion. With pressure and body weight, the sac can become inflamed and cause a lot of pain.

Do I Have Bunions Because of My Shoes?

There’s been a lot of speculation over the years regarding the cause of bunions. Many people believe ill-fitting shoes are the cause. They claim people around the world who don’t wear shoes never get bunions.

This claim has never been substantiated, though.

However, let’s take a brief detour here.

Whether or not ill-fitting shoes cause bunions is yet to be determined. But this doesn’t mean you should go out and wear shoes which cause you a lot of pain.

Often most of the stylish shoes on the market aren’t the most comfortable shoes.

We all want to look good, but this doesn’t mean we should do so at the expense of our health. Ill-fitting shoes can cause many problems. They can cause painful blisters, sore feet, broken/sprained ankles, and long-term back pain.

When you go shoe shopping, try to find shoes which are both stylish and comfortable. Thankfully, more shoe designers are trying to provide consumers with more comfortable options.

Why Bunions Are Commonly Misdiagnosed

At first glance, it doesn’t seem like it would be too difficult to diagnose a bunion. The fact is, though, many people think they have a bunion when they have something else entirely.

Some foot conditions can mimic the symptoms of a bunion. For instance, osteoarthritis is an inflammatory disease which affects the joints. The joints of the hands and feet can swell and cause a lot of pain. In some cases, an arthritic MTP joint can look like a bunion.

Another condition which causes pain like a bunion is gout, which is an inflammatory condition related to arthritis.

Over the years, we’ve seen a number of conditions which are quite similar to the pain, look, and feel of a bunion. This is why it’s so important to see a foot specialist. The only way to get long-term relief is with the right diagnosis.

For the Best Treatment Options, See a Podiatrist

If you suspect you have a bunion, you need to have it examined by a foot doctor. This is the only way you’ll know whether you have a bunion or another condition.

In order to treat your foot, you’ll need to first have a proper diagnosis. From there, a treatment plan can be created to reduce your pain and allow you to walk with ease.

If you do have a bunion, starting with the minimally invasive options is usually first. In many cases, though, surgical treatment is needed to stop the bunion progression.

Fortunately, the latest technology allows for an outpatient procedure in a very short period of time. And because the surgery is so precise, the success rate is higher and recovery rate is faster.

The best bet for anyone experiencing foot pain is to see a doctor as soon as possible. Without the proper treatment, the issue will typically progress. But with proper treatment, you can feel like your old self in no time. If you have questions or concerns about a condition of your foot, feel free to contact us. We are here to help!

Dr. Fui Dawson
Podiatrist in Marietta, GA, Dr. Fui Dawson, is a Harvard trained Foot & Ankle Specialist treating patients in Marietta, GA and in the surrounding communities. Our clinic, Advanced Foot and Ankle Institute of Georgia, offers treatment for all foot and ankle conditions.