As we age, our bodies continue to shift and change, just as they did as we went through puberty. Sometimes the changes are in our feet — maybe we can’t stand as long as we used to, or maybe we’ve got other issues. Maybe the issue is bunions, certainly nothing to get excited about. But, while bunions generally are harmless and pain-free, they can develop into a problem for your feet.
Nobody wants bunions, but the good news is that treating them can start at home. Eric K. Gilbertson, DPM, FACFAS leads our extraordinary team at Renew Foot & Ankle in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Dr. Gilbertson has treated numerous bunions over the years, and has some education and tips that can help you keep your feet healthy and comfortable.
Bunions, though common, don’t appear in everyone. It’s thought that people who do have bunions are genetically disposed to developing them. Bunions are often the result of a structural problem in the foot, but ill-fitting, unsupportive shoes can possibly cause them, and will certainly make them worse.
Bunions are more common in women than men, and become more common as women age. This condition can result from flat feet, abnormal bone structure, and ligaments in the foot that have too much flexibility. Other possible causes and common exacerbations include:
Excessive rubbing on the foot can cause a blister, but a bunion is much deeper. Bunions are characterized by the presence of a big bump on the side of the foot that causes the big toe to reach forward at an angle. The skin on the side of your big toe may be thick, red, or inflamed, have calluses and be painful. You may also have trouble moving your big toe.
Some people develop bunionettes, tiny bunions that appear on the small toe.
Over-the-counter products for bunions have been on the market for decades and have improved as technology has improved. For example, you’ve likely noticed circular covers for bunions in drug stores or grocery stores.
In addition to over-the-counter treatments, start with low-heeled, comfortable shoes. Supportive shoes are important for healthy feet, and can help your bunions heal. If you’re not already active, try adding some light exercise to your routine. Soaking your feet in warm water can help, and if you have access to a jacuzzi, your feet will be even better off.
Foot massages can help to ease bunion pain, as can non-steroidal medication. If you need to see Dr. Gilbertson, he may put a splint on your toe to straighten it out. The length of time you wear your splint is determined by Dr. Gilbertson with your unique needs in mind.
Shoe inserts can help alleviate bunion pain, as can over-the-counter gel-filled bunion covers that allow the skin and bone extra cushioning as your foot heals.
We’re sorry to hear that you’ve been struggling with bunions! Bunions aren’t a threat to your longevity, but they do negatively impact your quality of life and your levels of activity. Staying active and wearing comfortable footwear can help prevent bunions, but even the best among us may have issues with our feet. If you’ve got a bunion, give our office a call, or book an appointment online.