How are bunions caused?
Science doesn't know exactly what causes a bunion, but it appears to be related to the genetic foot structure that you inherit from your parents. Certain types of foot structures are more prone to develop bunions than others. A bunion is a progressive disorder, which means it progressively gets worse over time. It doesn't fix itself.
However, a bunion can worsen faster if the wrong types of footwear are worn. An example is a shoe with a narrow, pointed toe box that squeezes the toes into an unnatural position (i.e. high heels). According to the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society, 88 percent of women in the U.S. wear shoes that are too small and 55 percent have bunions. Also, women get bunions nine times more often than men.
What the different kinds of bunions?
"Hallux Abducto Valix" is when a "bump" appears on the side of the big toe. This bump reflects changes inside the framework of the foot. The big toe leans toward the second toe, instead of pointing straight ahead.
"Hallux Rigidus" is a bunion that causes pain and stiffness in the big toe joint. Over time it gets increasingly harder to bend the toe. This is a form of degenerative arthritis.
Can bunions be corrected?
Many times bunions can be managed, but not cured, with non-surgical treatments including: wearing the right footwear (good padding/arches and the correct size), placing bunion shields over the area of the bunion, avoiding activity that causes bunion pain, taking anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, applying ice packs and injections of corticosteroids (by a doctor) to reduce the inflammation.
However, if a bunion gets progressively worse then surgery is likely to be the only option. Traditional bunion surgery leaves scars on the outside of the foot and scar tissue inside the foot, which results in more pain and swelling. There may also be a loss of range of motion for the big toe, which requires physical therapy.
Fortunately, Dr. K's Minimally Invasive Bunion Surgery uses a much smaller incision than traditional bunion surgery. This means no scarring on the outside of the foot and very little, if any, scar tissue inside the foot. Dr. K's patients normally experience far less swelling and pain than people who have traditional bunion surgery.
What is an orthotic?
Custom orthotics are custom-made devices that are designed to support your feet. Orthotics are manufactured to match the contours of your feet and the way you walk. Orthotics are created for you after a foot and ankle doctor examines of your foot. Orthotics may be used to treat bunions, depending on the severity of the bunion.
Prescription orthotics are divided into functional orthotics and accommodative orthotics. Functional orthotics are used to control pain caused by abnormal motion and/or to treat injuries like shin splints or tendinitis. Functional orthotics are often made from a semi-rigid material.
Accommodative orthotics are normally softer to provide the feet additional cushion and support. This type of orthotics is also used for bunions, diabetic foot ulcers and painful calluses on the bottom of the foot.
How soon after my surgery can I go back to work and/or participate in sports?
Every patient is different, but usually Dr. K's Minimally Invasive Bunion Surgery patients are back on their feet in feet in 2-4 weeks, while traditional bunion surgery can keep you off your feet for up to 3 months. Once you are back on your feet, it really depends how you feel as far as engaging in sports, but you should be able to do normal daily activities within 2-4 weeks with Dr. K's Minimally Invasive Bunion Surgery.
Does a bunion shield work?
Bunion shields can help cushion the irritated area of a bunion and help keep a bunion from brushing against the inside of the shoe. A gel-type bunion shield usually provides the most relief, but a silicon-based bunion shield is the most durable and can withstand multiple uses. A bunion shield is placed over the bunion at the base of your big toe. It is also important to wear comfortable shoes because you do not want to add more pain and pressure to your bunion in cramped shoes.
However, if the pain and swelling from your bunion continues, then you need to seek medical care from an experienced foot doctor.
What are the best shoes for preventing a bunion?
The best shoes to prevent a bunion are shoes that do not have high-heels, small boxes or pointy tips, and are not too tight. Ballet dancing or similar activities that include wearing constrictive shoes can help develop and irritate bunions. Some ill-fitting tennis shoes and other athletic shoes can also make your bunions worse.
You want shoes that provide good arch support, include padding, can stretch and "breathe." When trying on shoes, the big toe should not touch the end of your shoe. Make sure there is a thumb's width of room between the tip of the big toe and the end of the shoe. The shoe should also be wide enough to provide you room and comfort.