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Martin Foot & Ankle

Bunions: Dealing with Bulging Joints

When your feet are uncomfortable, generally you notice. Pain is an excellent, if unpleasant, signal flag that all is not well in your body. So when you notice your shoes rubbing uncomfortably against a bump on the side of your foot, which often occurs when you have bunions, you should take note that something is not the way it should be.

A Big Toe Deformity

BunionA bunion is a large bulge at the base of the big toe, caused by that first joint sliding out of alignment in the foot. The digit leans toward the small ones next to it, while the metatarsal bone slides away from its neighbors. The joint where the two meet then bends outward and creates that bump. Different forces working on the lower limbs can cause the toe to become displaced. The root of the problem is usually a biomechanical weakness that puts pressure on the ball of the foot, though your footwear can contribute to the condition as well.

The bulge can be quite uncomfortable, especially as the problem becomes worse. It rubs against footwear and puts stress on the ball of the foot, which can make walking uncomfortable. The changes in your feet can cause additional issues to form, like calluses, corns, and hammertoes. The disorder is also progressive—it will get worse with time, especially if it’s not treated. It can be managed conservatively, however, reducing much of your discomfort and slowing its advancement with a little care.

Managing the Condition

Conservative remedies for bunions involve relieving the pressure on the ball of the foot and reducing friction between the bulging joint and your footwear. The podiatrists here at Martin Foot and Ankle will examine your lower limbs to determine how severe your condition is and what the best paths forward for treatment are. Usually this involves some shoe changes and padding the foot.

Shoes need to accommodate your actual foot shape so they don’t put pressure on your toes. Avoid models with pointed or narrow toe boxes. Also, be sure your footwear has enough arch support and cushioning in high-pressure areas. Keep heels low; raised heels add extra pressure to the ball of the foot. If your shoes rub against the bulging joint, you may need a pad or orthotic to protect it from the friction. Orthotics can also help control abnormal biomechanical motion, so the stress on the forefoot is reduced. We may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to help relieve the irritation in the joint and eliminate pain. If the discomfort is persistent, you may need direct injections. For severe bunions or ones that aren’t responding to conservative measures, surgery may be your best option for pain relief.

If you’re struggling with uncomfortable bunions, don’t wait and do nothing about it. The problem will only get worse if your big toe continues to be displaced. Rather, contact the experts at Martin Foot and Ankle to see what can be done. Call our podiatry offices in York, Hanover, Lititz and Lancaster at (717) 757-3537 or visit the online contact page to request more information or an appointment.

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