One of the more painful conditions to affect our feet are bunions. A bunion is an abnormal, swollen bony bump that appears on the joint at the base of the big toe.
Signs and symptoms of a bunion include:
- The base of the big toe is swollen and sticks out.
- The big toe is often bent towards the other toes, and sometimes the second toe is pushed to overlap the third toe.
- Skin around the big toe joint is red and sore.
- Thickened skin at the base of the big toe.
- Pain in the big toe or foot.
- Wearing shoes is painful.
- Pain or difficulty when walking.
Most bunions can be treated without surgery. The first step for treating bunions is to ensure that your shoes fit correctly. Often good footwear is all that is needed to alleviate the problem. Shoes that are wide enough to avoid pressure on the bunion are the obvious first step. Look for shoes with wide insteps and broad toes and definitely no high heels.
Pads and toe inserts
Protective bunion pads may help to cushion the joint and reduce pain. Toe inserts are available that splint the toes straight. It may be recommended that you wear some orthotics to improve your foot position when walking.
For more severe cases, surgery may be necessary. Bunion surgery aims to bring your big toe back into its correct position. Several different surgical procedures have been used to treat bunions. These include ‘shaving’ excess bone, removing the end of one of the bones or breaking and re-aligning the misplaced bone. Rehabilitation from bunion surgery can be quite long and usually involves you keeping off your foot for some weeks. It may take a year or more for complete recovery.