What is a bunion?

A bunion is an abnormal shifting of the bones in the foot which causes a bone bump on the inside of the foot and the big toe tends to deviate toward the 2nd toe.  The big toe is critical to walking and when it is misaligned it can cause pain in the foot and other joints due to walking abnormally.  With the change in size and position of the foot from a bunion it can be hard to find shoes that fit.  The good news is it can be fixed. You don’t have to hobble the rest of your life.

What causes a bunion?

Usually it is a combination of things. Genetics plays a part.  Foot structure like a flat foot or a falling arch can cause overload of the joint and cause the bones to move.  Improper shoes can also cause abnormal pressures which can move the joints and bones.

Can bunions be prevented?

Once the foot is evaluated we can make a plan to prevent the bunion.  Typically if we see a bunion starting it can be prevented with proper shoes and a custom made orthotic.  It is particularly important to have a mold taken of your foot while it is held in the correct position to make a Custom Functional Orthotic.  The scanners that people stand on do not provide an “orthotic”, they provide a soft insole without the needed functional support, which does not help to prevent or correct anything.

Can bunions be fixed?

Yes, bunions can always be fixed.  The worse they get the more work they take to correct, but I have not found a bunion I could not correct yet.  Bunions usually take a procedure to release contracture or a surgery to move the bone back into the correct position.  The earlier the diagnosis the easier it is to fix or prevent.

My mom and grandma told me it was painful?

Not so much anymore.  Surgical procedures have changed significantly over the years. Every surgery has some discomfort, but there is much less pain than there used to be.  I would say the majority of patients state they have less pain than they expected and some have no pain at all.

Do the gimmicks in the magazines like toe splints work?

For the most part they will not.  Gimmicks don’t address the root of the problem, abnormal position of the joint or bone. A toe splint cannot correct that.

What happens after surgery, if I need surgery?

Most of the time patients can walk on the foot after surgery in a walking boot.  There is usually no need for crutches or casting.  You will be slowed down but not prevented from daily activities that need to be done.   Time in the boot will depend on the type of procedure performed.

What should I do if I suspect a bunion?

We evaluate people with bunions every day.   We can give recommendations as to how severe it is and different treatment options available.  We will work out a treatment or prevention plan that works for you.

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