According to an estimate, approximately 1 in 3 Americans have bunions – a bony bump that forms outside of the big toe.
A bunion occurs when some of the bones in the front part of the foot shift out of place, causing the tip of the big toe to be pulled toward the smaller toes and forcing the joint at the base of the big toe to protrude.
While non-surgical treatments are often the first-line treatment of bunions, there are cases where surgery becomes necessary to alleviate pain and correct deformity.
In this blog, we will talk about the telltale signs of bunions, the causes of bunions, and how surgery can help people with bunions.
Diagnosing Bunions- Warning Signs to look out for
In most cases, bunions do not require medical treatment. However, there are instances where bunions can cause a variety of symptoms that can interfere with your ability to walk.
Some symptoms of bunions that indicate your need to see a medical doctor are as follows:
- Ongoing pain in the big toe
- Decrease movement of the foot or big toe
- A visible bump on your big toe, accompanied by redness or soreness of the overlying skin
- Difficulty finding a shoe that fits properly
Your foot and ankle will understand your symptoms and perform a physical exam, with or without a diagnostic imaging test, to diagnose a bunion.
Causes of Bunions
While there can be multiple factors contributing to the development of bunions, some common causes of bunions are:
- Genetics– Approximately 70% of people who develop bunions have a family history of bunions. Some people also inherit a foot structure that is more likely to develop bunions.
- Wearing Poorly Fitting Shoes – Wearing shoes with narrow pointed-toe boxes, particularly among women, can contribute to the formation of bunions.
- Having an Inflammatory Condition – Some inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can cause big toe joints to inflame and deform, causing bunions.
When Is Bunion Surgery Necessary?
A foot and ankle doctor recommends bunion surgery when you have consistent and severe pain and deformity that interfere with your daily activities, despite conservative treatments like changing shoes, padding, medications, shoe inserts, and applying ice.
The Different Types of Bunion Surgery Options Available
There are many types of bunion surgery options available. Your foot and ankle doctor can treat your bunion using a single technique or a combination of techniques. These include:
- Exostectomy – This technique involves shaving off a minor bunion. Exostectomy can be performed with osteotomy.
- Osteotomy – This technique involves making a small incision in the bone and using screws or pins to realign the bones of the big toe joint.
- Arthrodesis – In this technique, your podiatrist will remove that arthritic part of the big toe. Then, your podiatrist will place the screws in the toe to hold the bones while they heal. A bunion that is severe and is caused by arthritis is treated using this technique.
Bunion Surgery in Rhode Island and Massachusetts
At Foot & Ankle Institute of New England, we have a team of board-certified podiatrists who are experts in providing both conservative and surgical treatment for a comprehensive range of foot and ankle conditions, including bunions. Our podiatrists work with patients of all ages and address all their lower extremity issues that keep them from moving freely.
If you would like to know more about us or make an appointment, call one of our three convenient locations in Warwick, Middletown, or Fall River today, or schedule an appointment online using our form.