Bunions are an aggravating and often irritating deformity of the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint at the base of the big toe. Bunions develop when feet are repeatedly squeezed into pointed footwear, because of an injury, when you have certain types of arthritis, or possibly because they run in your family.
The big toe pushes against the other toes and can even force itself beneath the next toe. As a result, the MTP joint, angles out from the foot, causing a noticeable bump on the inside of your foot below the big toe.
Treating your bunion can prevent further damage to the joint and reduce the pain that sometimes accompanies them. David Biss, DPM, board-certified podiatrist at Concord Podiatry in Concord and Plymouth, New Hampshire, offers a full range of podiatric services, including treatment and prevention of bunions.
Why bunions require treatment
The MTP joint is a critical joint in your foot. It helps you distribute weight and gives your feet a wide range of motion. A bunion at this junction of bones, tendons, and ligaments can have an impact on your foot, affecting other toes. If under pressure, the big toe can develop corns, and calluses may develop that cause pain.
Bunions can affect your gait, leading to pain in your knees, hip, and lower back. Because your foot is responsible for shifting weight on and off your joints, it’s important to take care of potential conditions that may arise due to a bunion. Discomfort in the balls of your feet can cause long-term damage.
What you can do to prevent bunions
To prevent bunions, or to help stop them from getting worse, take the following steps and the advice of your podiatrist.
Wear comfortable shoes
Properly fitting shoes aren’t too tight on your feet and have a wide arch. Find a pair of shoes that fit to your size. Avoid shoes that are pointed or have a narrow toe box. High heels are a good example of a shoe that may cause a joint deformity.
Search for stretchable materials like leather or canvas. Having a good shoe that you can loosen and tighten as needed may help prevent bunions from developing or becoming larger.
Find the right shoe insert
Your feet may be misaligned, or you may have flat feet (fallen arches). You can get over-the-counter inserts for your shoes that help relieve common problems, or ask your podiatrist about custom orthotics.
Shoe inserts are designed to correctly support your arches and ensure alignment of your feet. They can distribute weight evenly and help prevent bunions.
You may also use a splint to keep your big toe straight while you walk.
Take care of your feet
The best medicine is rest. If your feet are feeling sore, prop them up to keep blood from pooling in your lower legs. Your feet endure a lot throughout the day, and soaking them in warm water and epsom salt a few times a week can help ease discomfort.
Exercise your feet regularly
Yes, exercising your feet regularly can help prevent bunions! Weak joints can cause discomfort over time. You can do a series of exercise every few days to keep your joints and feet healthy.
- With the heel and ball of your foot on the floor, lift your toes up. Hold for five seconds and release. Repeat several times.
- With the heel and ball of your foot on the floor, lift your toes and spread them apart. Reach your small toe outward and move your big toe closer to the inside of your foot. Hold for a few seconds, relax your toes, and then repeat.
- Enlist the help of your podiatrist for more advanced exercises.
You can prevent bunions and avoid unwanted pain and possibly long-term effects. To learn more, or if you think you need treatment for a bunion, Contact Concord Podiatry for an appointment today.