Bunions, also known by the medical term Hallux Valgus is one of the most common forefoot deformities. A bunion is conduced by the displacement of the bone under the big toe. The displacement causes the big toe to move closer to the other toes of the foot, thereby conducing to formation of a bony prominence on the side of the foot.
The displacement can cause the big toe to rest occasionally over the adjoining toe, although mostly under it. Along with displacement, slight bone growth on the outer margin of the big toe also conduces to this problem. This condition is more common in women, as they wear tighter fitting shoes. Bunions can become inflamed and can be accompanied with severe pain. There are different means of attaining bunion pain relief, however, before heading into the different ways to treat bunion pain, let us have a quick look at the causes and symptoms of bunions.
Cause and Symptoms of Bunion
People with a family history of bunion are inclined to get bunions. People who have one leg longer than the other are also more inclined to developing a bunion. Moreover, women wearing poor fitting footwear are also prone to be affected by this condition. Weak ligaments, trauma, injury to the feet, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, genetic or neuromuscular diseases, excessive pronation, etc., are different causative factors of bunions. The symptoms of bunions comprise redness, pain, and inflammation along the inner margin of the foot. The affected person will not be able to wear a normal size shoe, as the feet may become too wide to fit into it. Grinding of the joint, occasional numbness, burning sensation, and swelling are some of the other symptoms that accompany this condition.
Pain Relief Measures
Wide Fitting and Soft Shoes
Relief for bunion pain can be attained by wearing broader shoes, wherein your feet will have room to stretch a little. One should avoid wearing high-heeled shoes. Soft shoes will make your toes feel better and will relieve you off continual pain. Moreover, special shoes are also made to relieve pain associated with bunions.
Bunion exercises help keep the joint flexible and mobile. One simple exercise is grabbing the big toe and foot, and pulling on the big toe. Another pain relief exercise is stretching the big toe by grasping it and stretching the joint in various locations. Do this for several number of times. The exercises sound simple, however, before trying out any of these exercises make sure you consult your health care provider first.
Ice Packs, Bunion Pads, Shields, and Splints
Use an ice pack to alleviate the pain and inflammation. Apply the pack on the joint after elevating the foot on a stool. One can also use bunion gel pads, bunion shields, or bunion splints to reduce pain and inflammation. The gel pads and shields are to be worn over the foot or applied directly over the bunion to protect the foot from pressure, friction, and abrasion, while wearing shoes. The splint on the other hand is worn at night to correct the position of the toe. It can also be worn during the day while wearing shoes.
For quick and temporary pain relief try soaking your feet in warm water for 10 minutes. The heat provides a soothing effect on your foot. You can even add epsom salts, herbal sachets, or other comfort measures into the water. Placing your foot in a whirlpool bath will also be quite relieving.
When the above non-surgical treatment options have not worked, your health care provider will suggest undergoing a bunion surgery to correct the dislocation. The surgery can be performed by an orthopedic surgeon, who will loosen the tight tissues and shorten the long ones, so as to repair the tendons and ligaments present around the toe. Severe bunions can be corrected with the use of wires, plates, and screws. There are different types of surgical procedures and the best procedure for you will be told to you by your surgeon. However, bunion surgeries cannot guarantee total recovery. Often calluses and corns are developed as post operative complications.
A bunion is actually progressive misalignment of the big toe joint, which starts by the slight leaning of the big toe towards the adjoining toe, and then gradually conducing to the formation of a bump. Consult your health care provider for suitable pain relief measures. To prevent these bumps from forming on the sides of the big toe, wear shoes that fit properly. Your shoe should be wide enough to accommodate the toes without forcing them together.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.