Bunions are one of the most common conditions treated by an orthopedic doctor for foot and ankle in The Woodlands, TX. A bunion is a physical deformity that causes the big toe to move inward and a bump to form on the outside edge of the big toe. The condition may be common, but it can cause serious discomfort in many people. A foot and ankle specialist can recommend different ways for you to care for and treat bunions. Here's what you need to know about why they form and their treatment.
A bunion is a deformity that develops gradually over time. It's caused by pressure on the big toe joint, which causes the weight to shift unevenly on all the foot tendons and joints. This eventually causes the anatomy of the foot to change. There are a few different reasons this weight shift and anatomy change can occur. One of the most common causes is shoes that are too tight. However, it appears that there may be a genetic predisposition to bunions because of certain foot structures and shapes. Other factors that may contribute to the development are low arches, arthritis or gout, foot injuries, and some neuromuscular disorders.
Some people may begin to notice symptoms of a developing bunion before they notice any deformity in the foot. There may be pain in the big toe, which is exacerbated when tight or high-heeled shoes are worn. As the pain worsens, it will be more difficult to walk, and the toe will experience a burning feeling that may eventually turn to numbness. There are usually calluses where the toes rub together abnormally. In later stages, the skin along the outside of the big toe will become thicker and red in color, and a bump will form.
The most obvious complication of a bunion is that it will grow over time, making it more difficult to walk because of the pain. Severe cases may result in the big toe moving below or above the second toe, which can place additional pressure on the third toe. All three of these toes become misaligned after time. When bunions are left untreated, there's the risk of bursitis developing. This is when a fluid-filled sac called a bursa becomes inflamed, causing pain and redness. The joints in the toe may begin to bend abnormally, and the ball of the foot could become inflamed as well.
There are some home treatments that the doctor may recommend, especially if you're in the beginning stages of a bunion. Wide-toed shoes that provide ample room for your toes can provide significant relief and possibly prevent the bunion from worsening. Toe spacers or padded shoes may also help evenly distribute pressure to provide relief. Applying warm compresses or ice packs can be helpful, especially when used along with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs. The doctor may also administer cortisone injections to relieve inflammation and pain.
When home treatments are unsuccessful, a foot and ankle doctor in The Woodlands, TX, may recommend surgery. This involves the realignment of muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the big toe. Severe cases may require excess bone to be removed and then realignment of the toes. They're secured with screws or pins to keep them in place while they heal. Contact Ankle & Foot Specialists of Conroe, The Woodlands today to learn what your best treatment options are for bunions.