Bunions are fairly common: They’re reported in 23 percent of people 18 to 65, and in 36 percent of people older than 65. As such, many people might find them harmless and not needing to be addressed. However, in addition to pain and discomfort, bunions can cause long-term problems for your feet if left untreated.
What bunions are
A bunion is a bony bump that forms when the joint that connects your big toe to your foot sticks out. It generally occurs when your big toe pushes against the toe next to it, causing the joint to protrude and form a bump. Because the bunion may rub against your shoe, the skin over your bunion may appear red and irritated.
Bunions may be caused by tight, narrow, or high-heeled shoes, but they also have a genetic component. Your feet may have inherited structural weaknesses or abnormalities that make you more susceptible to bunions. Bunions can also result from foot injuries.
Why bunions require treatment
Bunions form at a critical joint in your feet; it helps to bear and evenly distribute weight during physical activities. Because there are so many bones, tendons, and ligaments that meet at the joint where bunions form, they can cause serious orthopedic problems if left untreated.
Furthermore, when a bunion forms on your big toe, it can cause damage to your other toes as well. Your other toes may develop deformities — like corns, bends, or hammertoes — from the adjacent pressure. Your chances of developing ingrown nails and calluses also increase. And, over time, these issues can progress to a point where you’re unable to engage in physical activity or even walk normally.
How we treat bunions
At Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine, our surgeons are experts in their field, and experienced in offering both conservative and surgical treatments based on the severity of your bunion.
If your bunions aren’t causing you severe pain or haven’t yet impaired your ability to walk, we may suggest more conservative treatment options like orthotics or splints to correct the bulge over time.
However, if your bunion is causing you severe pain and has progressed to a point where you find it difficult to get around, you may need surgery to correct the problem. Surgery is usually completed on an outpatient basis, and typically requires dressings or a brace to be worn for 6-8 weeks afterward.
If you have bunions, don’t wait for them to progress to a debilitating point. Call us at our Kirkland, Washington, office or schedule your appointment online today.