A bunion is a hard, bony knob on the side of your big toe. Bunions are caused by uneven weight distribution on your toe joint. Over time, your toe joint becomes unstable and your body begins to mold the joint into a hard bump on the side of your toe.
Bunions are much more common in women; in fact, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, over half the women in America experience bunions at some point in their lives. Women often wear shoes that are too narrow and crush the toes. High heels add to the problem by pushing the toes forward.
Bunions can be caused by:
- Tight, narrow shoes and high heels
- Genetic bone deformity and foot type
- Foot trauma or injury
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Occupational foot stress
Bunions can result in you not being able to put on your shoes. You may also have trouble walking and doing your daily activities without pain. There are some simple therapies you can try to get relief from your bunion, such as:
- Placing ice packs on your bunion for 15 minutes
- Taping your foot to support the bunion and cushion it
- Wearing shoe inserts or padding to cushion the bunion
- Changing to wide, supportive shoes or sandals
- Taking over-the-counter pain and anti-inflammatory medication
For large, painful bunions that don’t respond to conservative therapies, it’s best to see a podiatrist for additional treatment. The podiatrist can inject the area of your bunion with cortisone to reduce swelling and pain.
You may need surgery if your bunion pain gets severe and interferes with your life. The podiatrist may suggest one or more of these surgical procedures:
- Straightening your foot and big toe
- Removing swollen tissue around the joint in your toe
- Fusing your big toe joints together
- Removing some of the bone in your big toe