Bunions are one of the three most common foot ailments, along with plantar fasciitis and Morton’s neuroma. Bunions affect 10 – 25% of the population; approximately 23% of people 18 – 65 have bunions. They are more prevalent in seniors and women; children also can develop bunions.
Birth of a Bunion
A bunion is a misalignment of the big toe, specifically a deformity of the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint at the base of the big toe. Bunions usually run in families, because low arches, flat feet and other contributing factors that increase the risks of developing bunions are often hereditary. When the metatarsal bone turns outward, the big toe points inward, and a bump develops. Most shoes will press and rub on this protrusion, causing a bursa sac to become swollen and painful.
Eventually, the big toe will position itself over or - more commonly – under, the second toe, which can then develop into a hammertoe. The ensuing discomfort alters the gait, causing even further deformity, increased irritation from shoes rubbing on the tender areas, and chronic pain. And the vicious cycle is established. Over time, the big toe may lose mobility. Bunions also can cause sores between the toes and ingrown toenails. Some of the factors that exacerbate the tenderness and persistent irritation of a bunion include:
High-heeled shoes – Statistically, women are 10 times more likely than men to develop bunions. Women’s tight-fitting and pointy-toed shoes often get the blame for causing bunions; experts say this is not the case.
Standing on feet all day – teachers and nurses are more susceptible
Spending long periods of time on hard surfaces
Repetitive stress – ballet dancers often suffer from bunions
Some people suffer for years, getting cortisone injections, icing every day, taking anti-inflammatory medications. When you’ve replaced your entire shoe wardrobe and can’t remember the last time you exercised, you’ve waited too long. It’s time for surgical intervention.
The goal of bunion removal surgery is to repair the underlying deformity, correcting the angle of the bone(s), while minimizing the chance of the bunion coming back. Simply shaving off the bony protrusion is not sufficient. There are several surgical procedures, depending on the specific nature of your condition. Typically, you can expect to wear a protective boot or cast for at least 4-6 weeks, with full recovery taking up to six months. Post-surgery physical therapy improves long-term results.
Don’t allow bunions to disable your life. Dr. O and her team specialize in bunion removal and perform all of the latest surgical techniques. With more than 25 years of treatment and surgical experience, your bunions will be a distant memory. Call 303-805-5156 for an appointment at our Cherry Creek, Castle Pines, Parker, or Aurora office. To learn more about bunions and treating them, visit us at footdoctorscolorado.com.