How to Get Relief from Bunion Pain and When to Consider Surgery

A bunion is a painful bony protrusion that forms outside the big toe. It is a common foot problem that often eventually becomes painful. Therefore, if you think you are developing a bunion, it is best to consider evaluation by your Phoenix Foot and Ankle Institute foot doctor. Getting a medical assessment is also essential since bunion pain progresses over time, especially if you are not taking steps to prevent the foot problem from worsening.

How do bunions form?

Bunions form when some of the bones on the front part of your foot shift out of alignment. As a result, the big toe leans toward the smaller toes and a bony bump forms outside your big toe. This foot problem is clinically referred to as hallux valgus, but most people use bunions. Tailor’s bunions or bunionettes form on the pink toe. Below are the classic signs and symptoms of a bunion.

  • Swelling and redness of the skin over the bump
  • Reduced mobility in the big toe
  • Callus or thickened skin develops when the first and second toes rub against each other.
  • A bony protrusion on the outside of your big toe joint
  • Pain around the bump which worsens while wearing shoes or walking

Regarding the cause of bunions, the exact mechanism is unclear, but there are various theories of how bunions form. People with foot problems that increase pressure on the big toe joint are more likely to develop bunions. Your big toe may have more stress due to an abnormal foot structure, a foot injury, or improper walking mechanics. Other factors associated with bunions include rheumatoid arthritis and tight-fitting or high-heeled shoes. These are not the primary cause of bunions, but they elevate your risk of developing this foot problem if you are already more prone.

How can I get rid of bunions?

Bunions can be painful whether you have them on one or both of your feet, and pain can worsen over time. Fortunately, you can lessen the bunion’s pain by choosing the right shoes. Wear shoes with a wide toe box to reduce pressure on your big toe and offer plenty of room for your toes. Avoid high-heeled shoes since they exert extra strain on your big toe joint. A bunion pad can also help prevent your big toe from rubbing against your shoe.

Do foot exercises and toe stretches to increase flexibility in the joint between your big toe and the rest of your foot. If you experience pain after walking, try applying ice on the big toe to relieve the pain. Over-the-counter options like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can also help relieve occasional pain.

When is surgery an option?

Conservative therapies are usually enough to treat bunions. But surgery may be an option if you have persistent pain that impairs mobility and doesn’t improve with these treatments. There are different surgical approaches, but surgery aims to restore normal alignment of the big toe joint and alleviate pain. 

If you have a bunion, book an appointment with your Phoenix Foot and Ankle Institute specialist to discuss your treatment options.