Image Source: iStockphoto/Jatuporn Tansirimas
Whether inherited or developed over time, bunions are stubbornly progressive foot deformities that are hard to get rid of. But they are also one of the most common foot conditions that often go untreated for years as people usually try to treat them at home thinking the issue will get better with time.
It mostly doesn’t and almost always requires specialized bunion treatment methods.
Since so little is known about bunions and most of our patients live with this unnecessary pain for years before seeking treatment, we are creating this page as a resource for help.
If you have been suffering from bunions and are looking to understand what you are dealing with, here are 17 of the most common questions with answers to help ease your mind.
1. What Is A Bunion?
A bunion is a foot deformity that often looks like a bony lump that juts out at the side of the big toe. It develops over time and is caused by the enlargement of the bone or the tissue around the joint at the base of the big toe.
Image Source: mayoclinic.org
As the enlargement worsens, it forces the big toe to lean towards the second toe, throwing off the bone alignment at the joint. So instead of pointing straight ahead, the joint sticks out the side of the toe. Therefore, the more prominent a bunion looks, the more severe the damage is under the base of the foot.
Bunions may appear red or swollen and are often the cause of great pain and discomfort.
2. What Does A Bunion Look Like?
When a bunion has grown sufficiently prominent, it looks like a bone sticking out the side of your big toe. It can happen on one or both of your feet and is often quite painful.
As it’s a progressive condition, a bunion may not look like much in the beginning. You may only feel pain or swelling at the side of the toe. Most people often shrug it off at the start and only address the issue when it has progressed enough. Therefore, it is extremely necessary to seek professional medical help when you start to feel regular pain or swelling at the base or the side of your big toe.
Early intervention may help remedy the situation with pain relief or conservative methods of treatment without the need for bunion surgery.
3. Bunionette Vs. Bunions?
A bunion that develops on your little toe (pinky toe) instead of the big toe, is called a bunionette. Also called a Tailor’s Bunion, bunionettes are different than regular bunions.
For one, their location is different. Bunions are located at the base of the big toe, on the inside of the foot. Bunionnettes are formed on the outside of the foot, though at the base of the little toe.
Second, bunionettes are rarer and often caused by external factors such as constant rubbing and pressure against the little toe. Bunions, on the other hand, are also genetic and caused by bone and tissue enlargement that may have nothing to do with outside factors.
Regardless of these differences, both bunions and bunionettes can be extremely painful and do not go away on their own. Reach out to a specialized doctor for bunions, as early diagnoses and treatment ensure early relief.
4. How Do You Get Bunions?
Medical science is not exactly sure what causes bunions, but it has some good guesses based on facts. Bunions are mostly a hereditary condition and are more prone to develop in certain foot types than others.
Since these foot types run in families, the faulty mechanical structure of the foot is the most common cause of bunion formation.
However, there are external factors that contribute to the issue, too. Such as:
- Too narrow shoes that are tight in the front
- Standing for long hours
- If the way you walk puts undue pressure on the front of the foot
- Imbalance in the bones, tendons, and ligaments
- Foot injuries
- Flat feet or ones with low arches
- Certain neuromuscular conditions
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Abnormal podiatric development in the fetus during gestation
Most foot doctors for bunions agree that the early stages of this problem often go painless, worsening the issues as it goes undetected. Therefore, as soon as you suspect you may be developing a bunion, it’s best to reach out to a podiatrist.
5. Are Bunions Hereditary?
Reiterating what we said above, what precisely causes a bunion is uncertain but diagnoses point towards certain foot types that make for the perfect conditions for bunions to form.
However, since those foot types run in families, bunions can be called a hereditary issue. It’s important to remember though that certain lifestyle practices like wearing ill-fitting shoes or standing for long hours may contribute to the issue as well.
To avoid forming bunions on the side of the foot, wear shoes that fit you well, that are made of soft materials, and that won’t chafe against your skin.
6. What Are The Common Symptoms Of Bunions?
Earlier stages of bunion development may go silent with not many symptoms showing up on the scene.
However, common conditions that indicate a problem at the base of your big toe joint, include:
- Pain and soreness at the site
- A burning sensation
- Numbness or inflammation
- Restricted movement of the toe
- Corns or calluses developing on the bump or between the toes
Bunions usually get worse over time and women may be more susceptible to bunion development than men. It may be due to women opting for too narrow or tighter shoes or long heels that put extra pressure on the front of the foot.
Bunion self-care involves making changes to the lifestyle and adopting practices that relieve the pressure on your feet.
7. What Doctor Should You See For Bunions?
Most orthopedics can treat mild cases of bunion but for the best bunion treatment in NY, your best bet is to see a podiatrist. A podiatrist has specialization in treating issues related to the foot or ankle. They can diagnose your bunion condition and prescribe the most effective treatment option for you.
8. What Does Bunion Pain Feel Like?
Since the early stages of bunion development may not be fully visible without an x-ray, most patients never suspect that the throbbing or shooting pain they feel in their big toe or sole of the feet is related to bunion development.
However, bunion pain can be constant or sporadic. It may only flare up when you wear tight shoes (resulting in most people shrugging the pain off as just being related to the shoes they were wearing that day) or it may become a more consistent presence. But if you start to feel pain in or under your big toe or some throbbing pain in the foot at night that doesn’t go away with usual stretches, it may be bunion-related.
Bunion pain may also feel like a shooting sensation in the toe, especially if the bunion is pressing against a nerve.
9. What Can You Do For Bunion Pain Relief?
Some at-home bunion self-care strategies include:
- Removing your shoes and elevating your feet to reduce the pressure on your foot and toe.
- Soaking your feet in cool water to reduce swelling.
- If you are feeling toe or joint stiffness, use a warm foot bath or compress with a steamed towel to relieve the discomfort.
- Stretch your feet with some simple foot exercises to relieve the pain and stiffness and add flexibility to your feet.
- If the pain or swelling is too much, use an ice pack by wrapping it with a thin towel and applying it to the affected area. Keep moving it around so the relief is more uniform and comfortable.
If these bunion pain-relief methods are not working, it may be time to see a doctor.
10. How To Get Rid Of Bunions Without Surgery?
Once a bunion develops on your big toe, it won’t go away on its own. Therefore, depending on your pain (measured on a scale of 1-10), the best doctors for bunions divide the treatment method into two categories: non-surgical and surgical.
Non-Surgical Bunion Treatment: It targets bunion pain relief and ensures the problem doesn’t get aggravated. It may include treatments like:
- Ice padding
- Soft padding
- Corrective footwear
- Customized orthotic devices
- Oral medications
- Steroid injections
- Restricted activity
Surgical Procedure: Several surgical procedures exist that target different areas of bunion deformity. Depending on what has caused your bunion, your doctor may choose the method most effective for that particular challenge. To ensure your surgery remains a success and you don’t develop cause for a revision bunion surgery, sticking with your post-operative care will be extremely necessary.
11. When To See A Doctor For Bunions?
Mild cases of a bunion may get treated with conservative methods of treatment as listed above, but immediately set up an appointment with a bunions doctor in NY if:
- You have ongoing pain in your foot or big toe that remains constant or becomes worse.
- You can see a visible bump forming on the side of your big toe.
- The movement in your big toe has started to become restricted or painful
The sooner you seek bunion treatment, the more effective it may be.
12. What To Ask My Doctor If I Think I Have A Mild Case Of Bunions?
Only your foot doctor (a podiatrist) can determine if you have a mild bunion or a severe one. They will be able to do that after looking at your bunion or may be conducting a series of x-rays to get a clear picture.
After the correct diagnosis, your doctor will prescribe a treatment method for your bunion. If the bunion is diagnosed as a mild one, you may be asked to restrict your activities, change your footwear choices, or wear corrective shoes.
For severe cases of bunions that are past the point of these conservative treatments, surgery may be the answer.
13. How Bad Do Bunions Have To Be Before Surgery?
The best bunion doctors in Queens, NY opt for bunion surgery, Lapidus Bunionectomy when their patients report suffering severe foot pain that doesn’t go away with rest or medication.
If you or a loved one has been living with pain for a long time and home remedies have stopped working, or if you feel constant foot pain while walking or even wearing comfortable flat shoes, surgery may be needed to treat the problem.
14. How Much Does Bunion Surgery Cost?
The best bunion doctors in NY offer several kinds of surgical procedures for bunion treatment. They depend on factors like the severity of the deformity and the usual activity level of the patient. Depending on these factors and more, studies suggest the average cost for bunion surgery may be around $5,000-6,000. More complex treatments will be more expensive, while your doctor may be able to prescribe you a more effective treatment if the bunion case is mild.
For the most appropriate cost estimates, reach out to a bunions doctor near you and discuss your particular issue with them.
15. Do Bunion Correctors Work?
Bunion correctors offer pain relief when you are dealing with a mild case of bunions. However, for bunion issues that have persisted for a long time or that have worsened, surgery may be the most effective solution.
If you are still wondering ‘Do bunion correctors work?’, try using them only for temporary pain relief and they may prove to be of some help.
Bunions are common foot deformities that may go unnoticed for years before you first experience their pain. But if you have started to feel swelling around your big toe or have trouble walking due to a lot of pain under or around the front of your foot, it may be a good idea to call a foot doctor for bunions and aim for an early diagnosis.
Since bunions do not go away on their own, early detection can help you give pain relief and corrective assistance without the need for more invasive surgical treatments.