All feet change shape over time to some degree—they tend to get a little wider and a little flatter as we age. That’s normal.
However, here’s what isn’t normal: a giant, hard, bony bump growing off the side of your foot!
That would be a bunion, and even if it doesn’t bother too much you now, it will only get worse (and more painful) the longer you try to ignore it.
Fortunately, treatments are available—and if you act quickly enough, you may even be able to avoid surgery, or at least delay it as long as possible.
What Is a Bunion?
Bunions are relatively common foot deformities that, as we said, are most obviously distinguished by the formation of a large, bony bump along the inside of the foot, at the base of the big toe.
At the same time, the big toe itself becomes misaligned, drifting further and further toward the other toes. In a severe bunion, the big toe may even cross overtop the second toe.
Both of these external symptoms are the result of instability in the joint at the base of the big toe.
Other potential symptoms and complications may include:
- Stiffness, soreness, or arthritis in the toe joint
- Development of corns and calluses where the bunion or toes rub against shoes (or each other)
- Difficulty wearing certain shoes or performing certain activities comfortably
What Causes Bunions?
We aren’t always 100% sure why bunions form for some people. However, there is a common set of underlying risk factors associated with the development or progression of bunions:
- Foot types. Certain foot shapes and structures may be more likely to lead to bunions—especially if that foot shape creates extra pressure on the big toe joint. Bunions tend to run in families, most likely because you inherited a foot type that is more prone to them.
- Poor footwear. High heels and shoes that constrict or cramp the toes or just don’t fit properly will at least aggravate your bunions and may accelerate their progression.
- Injuries. You may have suffered a specific injury (such as a stubbed toe) that destabilized the big toe joint.
- Other conditions. People with conditions like hammertoes or rheumatoid arthritis may be more susceptible to developing bunions as well.
How Are Bunions Treated at Our Lee's Summit Office?
If your bunion is not severe and you are still able to get through your daily activities, we may be able to help you manage the situation conservatively. This will not fix the bunion, but our main goal is to allow you to live your ideal lifestyle without restriction. If conservative treatments can do that for you, we encourage you to take that route.
However, more severe bunions that are getting in the way of full, healthy living and cannot be managed conservatively will most likely need surgical correction.
Conservative Treatment Options for Bunions
Depending on the current state of your bunions, we may be able to help you manage symptoms and improve function with treatments or strategies such as:
- Padding the bunion or toes to reduce friction pressure, corns, and calluses
- Taping or splinting the toe so that sits in a more normal alignment (if it is still flexible enough to do so)
- Heat-molded or custom orthotics are used to lessen pressure on the big toe joint, improve foot function and slow the progression of the bunion.
- Switching to a more comfortable and accommodating pair of shoes with a wider toe box to create more room for the front of the foot. Also, shoes with more stability will reduce pressure to the fore foot and toes.
- Physical therapy exercises to relieve some tension and strengthen muscles, tendons, and ligaments that stabilize the foot.
- Pain relief medications
Surgical Bunion Correction
Unfortunately, many bunions will eventually require a surgical correction in order to restore foot function and allow you to live your lifestyle unencumbered by pain.
But there’s good news here.
The first is that, while surgery is obviously not “fun," bunion surgery is highly successful on average and most people are able to make a complete recovery, provided they have the correct procedure and follow their post-surgical instructions carefully.
The second is that Dr. Joel Foster is trained in minimally-invasive surgical techniques. In fact, Dr. Foster is one of the most experienced minimally-invasive foot surgeons in the Kansas City area. He has performed well over 1,000 minimally-invasive procedures and has been using minimally-invasive techniques for several years. Minimally-invasive surgery offers many benefits to the patient, including faster recovery, lower risk of infection, less scarring, and even lower cost.
In certain cases, we might also recommend HyProCure before or after other treatments, to further stabilize the alignment of the rear foot and, in turn, help reduce excess, destabilizing pressure on the big toe joint.
HyProCure is a short, minimally invasive surgical procedure in which a titanium stent is placed within the sinus tarsi, a naturally occurring cavity between the ankle and heel bones. This stent will support the cavity, keeping it from collapsing and maintaining a sounder overall foot structure.
Treat Your Bunion and Get Your Life Back at Our Lee's Summit Office
So, if you want to keep your feet in good shape—or if necessary, correct your bunion and get your life back—give us a call today at (816) 246-4222 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your appointment today.