What is a bunion?
A bunion is a swollen, sore bump that appears on the side of the big toe. The side of the big toe gets larger and sticks out. The skin over it may be red and tender. A bunion that becomes too severe, may hamper your ability to walk. The possibility of developing arthritis and/or bursitis increases. (It is called a bunionette when it occurs on the small toe.)
What causes it?
This common deformity is often blamed on wearing shoes that are tight, applying pressure and discomfort to the toes (i.e., high heels). Nine out of ten bunions happen to women. There are genetic elements of developing bunions as well. The deformity tends to slowly worsen over time.
Most bunions are treatable without surgery or even a trip to the doctor. To relieve the pain, begin by wearing shoes that are roomy enough to not put pressure on the bunion. Have your shoes stretched out professionally, if necessary. Protective pads to cushion the painful area may also provide relief.
If your bunion does not respond to changes in your footwear and has progressed to where it is difficult to walk, surgery may be required. Pressure on the second toe may cause enough pain to warrant surgery. Bunion surgery realigns bone, ligaments, tendons and nerves so your big toe can be brought back to its correct position. Bunion surgery is performed on an outpatient basis using?regional anesthesia. Stiffness and swelling can be expected following surgery. You will need to wear an open sandal for approximately 4 weeks afterward.
To minimize your risk for bunions, never wear shoes that do not fit properly. Choose shoes that conform to the shape of your feet, with wide insteps, broad toes and soft soles. Avoid shoes that are short, tight or sharply pointed, and those with heels higher than 2 1/4 inches.