Bunions are a surprisingly common cause of foot pain, especially as you get older. In fact, about a third of people 65 and older have one of these bulging, painful lumps at the base of the big toe.
Bunions happen when the bones that comprise your lower big toe joint move out of their normal alignment: The upper bone leans in toward the other toes, while the lower bone (or metatarsal) pokes outward. Many people who have bunions wonder if they need surgery or if nonsurgical options will work.
With offices in Dallas, Plano, Keller, Weatherford, and Fort Worth, Texas, Texas Orthopaedic Associates is a leading provider of bunion treatment, including advanced bunion surgery, helping patients of all ages finally find meaningful relief for their nagging pain. In this post, learn more about bunion treatment, including whether nonsurgical therapies are adequate.
Many people think shoes are to blame for bunions. The truth is, while wearing shoes with tight or pointy toes can make your bunion worse, fashionable footwear probably isn’t the underlying cause. Instead, bunions are more likely related to the anatomy of your foot and the way you walk (your gait).
People who have weak ligaments and tendons may be more prone to developing a bunion at some point during their lives. If you have short or tight calf muscles or Achilles’ tendons, you’re more likely to have bunions, too. Joint diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis, can also increase your risk, and so can problems with your arches.
Bunions frequently cause a fair amount of pain, with symptoms becoming worse the longer you go without treatment. You might develop calluses along the side of your foot or on your toes, and it can be very difficult to find shoes that fit comfortably. If a bunion affects the way you walk, you can have pain in other joints and even in your spine.
When diagnosed early when the joint is still flexible and responsive, bunions may be treated with careful massage and special stretching exercises, combined with a splint to help hold the joint in place while you sleep. Avoiding tight or pointy shoes and wearing custom orthotics may help prevent the bunion from becoming worse while relieving your painful symptoms.
In most cases, though, these nonsurgical options simply reduce your symptoms without addressing the underlying toe deformity. The only way to truly “cure” a bunion is to have surgery aimed at repositioning the toe bone into its normal location.
During surgery, your doctor repositions the toe joint and stabilizes it to hold it in position. Afterward, physical therapy helps strengthen the area and improve toe flexibility. Custom orthotics and temporary use of a cane or crutch can help in the initial stages of healing, too.
Bunions can cause serious pain in your feet, and without prompt treatment, you can wind up with chronic pain in your knees, hips, and lower back, too. If you have a bunion, seeking care early is the key to feeling better and avoiding complications. To learn more about bunion treatments, book an appointment online or over the phone at Texas Orthopaedic Associates today.