Every woman with bunions fears the summer. Maybe every man does too. They’re a terribly unattractive affliction. A bunion is a bony deformity of the joint at the base of the big toe. This makes the big toe appear crooked – angled towards the middle toe.
What causes them?
It is unknown exactly what causes bunions, but it could be one or more of the following:
- Genetics (family history) – blame your mum or dad for your bunions.
- Arthritis – rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis and gout are the main types of diseases thought to cause bunions.
- Other conditions – several other conditions are thought to increase your chances of developing bunions. For example, conditions that are associated with loose ligaments (ligamentous laxity), flexible joints and low muscle tone could increase the likelihood of bunions developing.
- Poorly fitting shoes – you rarely find bunions among populations who do not wear shoes, so your vanity may be at the root cause of your bunions. Stop trying to fit into shoes that are too small, too tight or too high (high heels are the worst, as they cause excess pressure on the bottom half of your foot).
What are the symptoms?
Bunions sometimes cause pain. Other symptoms may include:
- A swollen, bony bump on the outside edge of your foot
- Pain, tenderness and swelling over your big toe joint that is made worse by pressure from wearing shoes
- Mild anxiety when shopping for summer shoes or going to a public swimming pool
- Your big toe turned outwards at an angle towards your other toes
- Hard, callused and red skin caused by your big toe and second toe overlapping
- Sore skin over the top of the bunion
- Changes to the overall shape of your foot
- A generally ugly-looking foot
How do I get it diagnosed?
Bunions usually get worse over time, so if you develop one, see your doctor. It is important to get medical help if you have a bunion that is causing pain or discomfort, or if you are having trouble finding footwear that fits.
The doctor will provide a foot examination and ask you about your shoe preferences.
So how do I get rid of them?
Bunions may only need to be treated if they cause significant pain and discomfort and if the deformity is severe.
Various non-surgical treatments can be used to provide pain relief, but they can’t stop a bunion from becoming progressively worse over time.
Possible non-surgical treatments include:
- Bunion pads
- Orthotics, such as insoles, bunion pads and toe spacers
- Modifying your footwear
If your case is extreme, your doctor may refer you for surgery. The aim of bunion surgery is to relieve pain and improve the alignment of your big toe. It is not usually carried out for cosmetic reasons alone. Even after surgery, there may still be limits to the styles of shoe you can wear. There are different types of surgical procedures, depending on how bad the deformity