If you have one, you know already that it’s painful. Now you want to know some other facts about bunions. A bunion is a bony bump that forms on the joint where your big toe meets your foot. Over time, the bunion gets bigger and sticks out. It can make your big toe turn in, sometimes so far that it moves on top of the toe next to it. You’ll notice that the area is red, swollen and painful.
Bunions are more common in women than men. This is probably because of the kinds of shoes that women wear. Here are some more causes:
- Conditions that make your joints swell and hurt, like rheumatoid arthritis, can lead to bunions.
- Bunions tend to run in families, so they are probably linked to the way a person’s feet are shaped.
- In some cases, certain health conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout, may also cause bunions.
- Bunions are more likely to occur in people with unusually flexible joints, which is why bunions sometimes occur in children.
Your doctor may want to do an an X-ray to see if the joint is damaged to help decide how to treat your bunion. Here are some things he may recommend:
- Change shoes: If you have shoes that are tight, pointed or high-heeled, you’ll need to change your footwear. Opt for shoes that have lots of room for your toes with heels lower than 2 inches.
- Ice: Use ice to ease the swelling and pain. If you have nerve damage or circulation problems, check with your doctor about using ice.
- Padding: Use a silicone bunion pad to relieve pain and prevent the bunion from rubbing against your shoe. Make sure that the pad is the right size because if it’s the wrong size, it can add pressure and cause more problems.
- Medication: Over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen can help with swelling and pain.
- Surgery: If other treatments don’t work for you, your doctor might suggest surgery to straighten out your big toe. Surgery isn’t recommended for children because the foot is still growing and the bunion often comes back.
More Facts about Bunions
A bunion that forms on the joint where your little toe meets your foot is called a bunionette. These aren’t as common as regular bunions. Researchers found that just 4 percent of a study population had a tailor’s bunion while 39 percent had regular bunions. A bunionette is also called a “tailor’s bunion.” Tailors were known to sit cross-legged for long hours, which put pressure on that side of their feet and led to bunions near their pinky toes.
Interested in learning more about foot care? Here’s more on foot care for people with diabetes.