Foot Pain

Bunions

What is a bunion?

A bunion is a deformity of the bone causing the big toe to angle towards the 2nd toe creating a bony lump on the side of the toe.

What causes a bunion?

  • Family history has a significant role
  • Arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout or psoriatic arthritis
  • Wearing tight fitting pointed shoes over a long period of time
  • Other conditions with poor muscle control and ligament laxity

What are the signs and symptoms?

  • Pain over the big toe and difficulty with walking
  • Swollen bony bump at the base of the big toe
  • Hard red skin around the prominent bony lump which may be a bursitis
  • Bursitis may be due to a localised inflammation of the soft tissue caused by rubbing against your footwear.
  • In severe cases the big toe angulation may start putting pressure on the other toes changing the shape of your foot

How do I manage this problem?

  • Pain killers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen may help your pain
  • Wear shoes that have enough space around the toes
  • You can also try bunion pads bought from your chemist
  • Ice packs can be used in acute painful conditions

What other treatments are available?

If your symptoms are ongoing over 3 months despite trying other treatment methods

  • Pain medications: Your GP may consider giving you stronger pain killers or anti-inflammatory for you to return to you normal activity
  • Podiatry: A podiatrist may be able to offer orthotics to ease the pressure around the big toe.
  • Steroid injections: If arthritic changes are present along with a small bunion, a steroid injection may be recommended.
  • Specialist opinion: Symptoms lasting over 6 months despite treatment may need a specialist opinion
  • X-ray: if your bunion is severe an x-ray may help the specialist to decide on surgery
  • Surgery: Is rarely needed

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