You’ve probably seen them before—if not on your own feet or your grandmother’s, then certainly bulging out the sides of some celebrity’s strappy high heels. The hard bump on the side of the foot can be painfully obvious, for both anyone looking at the feet and the person suffering with the problem. Bunions are a common foot deformity that anyone can develop. With the right care, however, anyone can manage them and find relief, too.
Changes in the Feet
Your forefoot is made up long metatarsal bones and your toes. Where these bones meet forms the ball of your foot, which is crucial for balance and pushing off the ground to walk. A bunion is a hard bulge that forms where the first metatarsal and the big toe join together, right at the ball of the foot.
This happens when stress on the forefoot causes the metatarsal and toe to slide out of alignment. The metatarsal starts to tilt outward and away from its neighbors. At the same time, your biggest digit does the opposite—it leans toward the smaller toes. The joint where the two meet then bumps out to the side, forming a visible bulge.
Many different underlying factors contribute to the condition. Generally, it’s a build-up of wear and tear on the big toe weakening the tendons that keep everything in place. Often an inherited structural or mechanical abnormality in your feet puts too much stress and pressure on your first digit. Years of strain from walking or even wearing poorly-fitted shoes then causes the bones to move. Occasionally bunions also develop with other foot conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis.
The Effects that You Feel
However the problem occurs, the bump and the pain it causes both increase slowly over time. You’ll notice a hard bulge on the side of the foot that may end up irritated and swollen from rubbing against your shoes. Typically the side of your foot appears red and inflamed. You may be prone to blisters, corns, or calluses in that area as well. As the condition worsens, you may find it hard and harder to wear certain shoes or spend too much time or your feet. Range of motion in the big toe may decrease. As the problem gets worse, the big toe might overlap its smaller neighbors. You may even develop hammertoes or other secondary deformities in your smaller digits.
Basic Bunion Management
Bunions do not improve on their own. To keep the problem from getting worse, and to deal with any pain, you have to invest in proper bunion care. Dr. Gerald Mauriello will examine your feet to diagnose your condition and rule out other possible explanations for your discomfort. Our staff may need to use tests or diagnostic images to evaluate the extent of the problem. Then we can help you start a treatment track.
Most bunions can be controlled through conservative methods. First and foremost, you need to relieve stress on the bulging joint to alleviate pain. Wear shoes with low heels, appropriate arch support, and plenty of room to accommodate the bunion bump. Avoid all high heels, narrow footwear, or shoes with pointed toe boxes. Ice the bulge when it aches to reduce inflammation and swelling in the area. Pad the bump to add extra cushion between it and your shoes. You might need orthotics to correct biomechanical issues that are contributing to the problem. If the condition keeps progressing, you might need to consider surgery for your bunion care.
Because bunions do not improve on their own, and usually get worse, don’t wait to take care of yours. The more the joint bulges outward, the harder it is to manage the condition. Let us and our staff of experienced specialists help you every step of the way. Just make an appointment at our Belvidere or Hackettstown, NJ, office for an evaluation and care. You can reach us through our website, or by calling (908) 475-8750.