Bunions: What You Need to Know

What is a Bunion?

“Wolff’s Law” is a medical principle stating that bone grows and remodels in response to the forces that are placed upon it.  Your podiatrist sees this in action in the formation of bunions, which are created when your big toe (or, less commonly, your smallest toe) pushes against the next toe over a long period of time, causing the joint of your big toe to get larger and stick out awkwardly.

Know Your Bunion Risk

When determining whether you are at risk for bunions, numerous factors should be considered:

  • Gender: Women get bunions more frequently than men, although scientists are not sure whether this is related to gender or to footwear choices.
  • Poorly fitting shoes:  The relationship between high heels and bunions is unclear, but regularly wearing shoes that are tight, narrow or cramped in the toe box does seem to increase your bunion risk. James M. McKee, DPM, FACFAS urges you to remember that special shoes are for special occasions.
  • Arthritis: People with chronic inflammatory conditions are more susceptible to bunions.
  • Congenital foot defects: Some people are born with foot anomalies that are likely to turn into bunions eventually.

Spotting a Bunion

If you know what to watch for, you’re more likely to spot a bunion when it first develops and is more easily treated. Be on the lookout for the following symptoms:

  • Redness, swelling or tenderness around the big toe joint
  • Constant or intermittent foot pain, especially in the big toe joint
  • Visible, unexplained changes in your foot shape, particularly a bulge or bump on the outside of the base of the big toe
  • Decreased movement of your toe or foot
  • Corns or calluses developing where the toes overlap
  • Trouble wearing old shoes and/or difficulty finding a new pair that fit your feet comfortably

Treating Bunions

No matter how large your bunion is, or how long you’ve had it, treatment is available. Non-invasive treatment options such as icing, over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, and padding or splinting may be appropriate for some patients. For others, surgery might be the best course of action.

Are you experiencing pain or swelling around your big toe?  It might be a bunion. Dr. James M. McKee sees patients just like you every week. He can determine the source of your foot pain and work with you to create the best possible individual treatment plan. Call Podiatry Group of Annapolis, P.A. at 410-224-4448 or click here to make an appointment at our Annapolis office today.