Bunions can be quite the eyesore—and they can also cause a lot of pain, too. In this condition, a large bump forms and grows along the side of the foot at the base of the big toe. At the same time, the toe itself pushes further and further toward, into, and sometimes even overtop its neighbor.
Mild bunions might not give you much trouble, but more serious ones can significantly restrict motion and make even wearing normal shoes painful. Since bunions tend to get worse with time, intercepting them before they start to cause problems is highly recommended.
What Causes Bunions?
Most experts agree that bunions are caused by a structural flaw in the feet themselves. In other words, some feet just aren’t as good at balancing impact forces, and greater-than-usual stress on the metatarsophalangeal joint (the one at the base of your big toe) can slowly destabilize the toe over time. This is one reason why bunions tend to run in families.
This means that the cartilage from one side of your joint no longer lines up with cartilage on the other side and this leads to the joint wearing out at an accelerated rate, like a tire on your car that is out of alignment.
How Are Bunions Treated?
The only way to remove a bunion bump and correct any fundamental misalignments is with surgery. However, this does not mean all bunions require surgical treatment. In fact, we try not to rush anyone into making that choice unless it’s absolutely necessary.
What it really comes down to is this: How is the bunion affecting your daily life?
In other words, the bunion may look a little funny. But if it isn’t causing you much pain or disability—you can still wear normal shoes, perform normal activities, etc.—we may only need to manage the condition with conservative treatments. This can slow the progression of the deformity and delay the need for more aggressive intervention.
Conservative Bunion Treatment
Conservative management may include some or all of the following:
- Ditching tight, restrictive footwear and high heels, and replacing them with roomier, more comfortable shoes that accommodate your foot shape.
- Using padding, toe splints, over-the-counter insoles, or custom orthotics (as needed) to reduce pressure on the bunion.
- Over-the-counter medications, injections, or potentially even laser therapy to relieve temporary inflammation and pain.
Signs that surgery might be required include:
- Pain that is seriously affecting your daily life
- Inability to wear any normal shoes comfortable
- Increasing stress on other areas of your foot (e.g., heel pain)
There are, quite literally, more than a dozen different ways to fix a bunion surgically, with new research expanding the knowledge base all the time. At Canyon Foot & Ankle, we work hard to stay up to date with the latest techniques, so that we can offer a procedure well suited to your specific circumstances and provide the shortest turn around time to get you back to your normal life.
We are experienced in many surgeries, including:
- Osteotomies, in which bones are cut and realigned into their proper position. We may use a distal approach for a mild-to-moderate bunion, or a proximal approach for one that’s more severe.
- Arthrodesis procedures, in which an unstable joint is fused to prevent painful motion. This includes the Lapidus procedure for a hyper-mobile tarsal-metatarsal joint.
- Procedures that completely replace an arthritic joint using an implant.
Whatever the condition of your bunion may be, we can recommend a procedure that will give you the best chance of a successful, quick, and permanent recovery. We also offer advanced pre and post-surgical conservative treatments, such as custom orthotics and laser therapy or amniotic tissue injection therapy, that can significantly reduce your recovery time and start rehab sooner. For more information or to schedule your appointment please call us at our office in Twin Falls at (208) 733-0436, or in Burley at (208) 678-2727.