Bunions are a condition that affects 23% of people 18–65, and 36% of those older than 65 but what are they, how do you get them and what can be done once you have them? Board-certified doctor of podiatric medicine, Matthew Martincevic, explains all this and more.
What is a Bunion?
“Bunions are a progressive forefoot deformity at the base of your big toe. Over time your big toe starts to drift toward your second toe causing a prominent bump on the inside part of your big toe joint which may often become painful or irritated,” explains Dr. Martincevic. “If left untreated, the big toe may even start to push the 2ndtoe out of the way. This causes joint instability and may lead to painful calluses and metatarsalgia along the ball of the foot as body weight is unequally distributed. Nerve irritation can lead to pain, burning, numbness or tingling. As the deformity worsens, it may be difficult to wear certain shoes”
Bunions are passed down through your genetics with 84% of patients having a family history of bunions. They occur more often with increased age and in women more than men. The shape and structure of your foot may predispose you to developing a bunion and tight-fitting, pointed shoes can make them worse.
If left untreated, bunions can change the way you stand or walk, which can cause pain in your other toes or feet. Because of this, it’s best to treat bunions early as it may be the underlying cause of foot pain.
“Unfortunately, you can’t prevent bunions forever, but you can slow the progression by wearing wider shoes, arch support or cushioned bunion pads,” explains Dr. Martincevic. “With conservative treatment, you may be able to improve symptoms and function. Avoid standing for long periods or wearing high heels and other shoes with narrow toe boxes.”
By choosing your footwear carefully you should be able to cut down on the likelihood of developing bunions. Shoes that conform to the shape of your foot and don’t press against any part of it are ideal. When choosing a shoe, avoid pointy toes and be sure there’s space between your big toe and the front of the shoe.
Treatment for Bunions
“Surgery is the only definitive way to correct a painful bunion deformity,” says Dr. Martincevic. “There are various surgical techniques for bunion correction based on the severity of the deformity.”
The procedure to correct a bunion is called a bunionectomy. It’s performed as a routine outpatient procedure in the controlled environment of an operating room and usually takes less than one hour. The procedure involves cutting and realigning the metatarsal bone along with tendon rebalancing so that the toe lays straight. For most bunion surgeries, patients will be able to weight bear in a post-operative shoe immediately after surgery. Severe bunion surgery may require you to be non-weight bearing on the foot that had the surgery for six to eight weeks.
“We generally only recommend surgery for patients that are in a great deal of pain or have a severe deformity because of the bunion.”
Consult a Specialist
If you’re having issues related to bunions or other painful foot problems, the world-class experts like Dr. Martincevic at AdventHealth Kissimmee are here as part of our whole-health care network. To find a podiatrist, please visit our site or call Call407-657-9188 to schedule an appointment today.