PediFacts: Bunions

A bunion (or ‘hallux valgus’) is a bony bump on the joint at the base of your big toe, causing the big toe to push unevenly against other toes. The American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society says one-third of women suffer from bunion pain and discomfort. You can develop bunions from genetics, faulty biomechanics and pronation, also made worse by poorly fitting foot wear, like dress or high-heeled shoes. 

For some, bunions are painful disruptions that can really affect quality of life. Bunion’s can simply cause discomfort when walking or great pain and stiffness, making it very difficult to perform ordinary activities and may even lead to arthritis. This is because a bunion is more than just a bump. It is a change in the bone framework of the big toe. As the big toe pushes toward the 2nd toe, it causes the bones to go out of alignment. This condition can progress over time.

If you experience pain and stiffness in or around the big toe, you should first look to change your footwear. The regular use of high-heels, especially those greater than 2 ¼”, are a big reason why women are 10 times more likely to suffer from bunions. Those same cramped, high-heeled shoes force your feet into a narrow, tight and inclined space. Prolonged exposure to this can contribute to a myriad of other foot ailments. Wearing comfortable, wider, supportive shoes with a low heel and large toe box can help with pain and discomfort associated with a bunion.

Bunion before and after

You can always try more conservative bunion treatments to start, but people with diabetes and poor circulation should always consult a medical professional before performing any self-treatment. Most bunions can be treated without surgery. Options include wider and more comfortable shoes, pads and cushions to protect the sensitive area and/or separate toes that rub and reduce pressure and friction. Arch supports to help bring the bones into a more normal alignment, thereby alleviating pressure on the big toe joint. Lower heel heights help ease the foot strain that can increase the formation of bunions along with rest, ice and anti-inflammatories. Several quality products from PediFix can help relieve or eliminate bunion discomfort and possibly prevent the condition from worsening.

Visco-GEL® Toe Spacers (#P28) Help align and straighten the big toe to relieve pressure.
Visco-GEL® ‘Stay-Put’ Toe Spacers™ (#P27) Spacer stays in position between first and second toes toseparate and align, and prevents rubbing and friction.
Visco-GEL® Bunion Guard (#P46) Soft Gel shield cushions and protects sore bunions.
Visco-GEL® Dual-Action Bunion Fix (#P47) Soft Gel Spacer separates and aligns while attached Bunion Guard cushions and protects sore bunion joint.
Visco-GEL® ToeBuddy® Bunion Guard (#P1038) Two loops keep a soft Gel spacer in perfect position between first and second toes to separate and align while Contoured Guard absorbs pressure and friction.
Visco-GEL® Bunion Relief Sleeve (#P1303) Soft’N Stretch™ fabric sleeve positions a soft Gel pad that cushions the bunion, dependably, comfortably andwithout adhesives.
Nighttime Bunion Regulator™ (#P6035) In severe cases, helps relieve pain while sleeping.

If you have experienced any of these symptoms or think you might be at risk for a bunion, see your foot specialist for a diagnosis. They can consider your medical history and check for diabetes or other conditions that may be a factor. Sometimes X-rays are ordered to determine if there is any damage to the bone or surrounding structures of the foot. With a brief physical examination, they can evaluate the nature of the bunion and suggest treatment options.

Bunion before and after

In severe cases, more conservative treatments may fail to provide relief. If you’ve tried over-the-counter methods and the pain continues,you have great difficulty walking despite a better choice of shoes, or the bunion appears to be worsening, you and your foot specialist may choose to look to surgical options.

Around 150,000 bunion procedures are performed annually in the U.S. When done by an experienced surgeon, the success rate for pain relief ranges between 90 to 95 percent. When a surgeon performs a Bunionectomy, the patient is under regional anesthesia, and the procedure is intended to restore the normal position and function of the big toe. This is accomplished by carefully realigning the bone to relieve pain and the discomfort of the bunion. This procedure usually has a recovery and rest period of two weeks where the patient stays off their feet and allows the foot to heal directly after the surgery.

Afterwards, a special orthopedic shoe is worn for an additional four weeks and the patient is usually able to return to most daily activities within three months. Complete functionality is usually restored within the year. Post-surgery, patients should still wear comfortable shoes with a wide toe box and avoid wearing tight fitting, narrow shoes with an elevated heel on a regular basis to help prevent another bunion from developing.