When you've got a painful bunion, you might wish that you could let your fingers do the walking instead. Or throw away all your shoes. That's impractical, of course. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to prevent and treat bunions.
But first, what exactly are bunions? When the big toe deviates toward the other toes, it pushes the base outward, creating a bony hump called a bunion. This can happen because of arthritis, an inherited condition called hallux valgus (a deformity in which the big toe rides over or under the other toes) or pointed high heels.
A bunion sometimes causes pain and swelling around the joint at the base of the big toe. If the big toe pushes under the second toe, a painful corn may form on the top of the second toe.
In some cases, however, bunions cause no more than minor discomfort and a cosmetic deformity. (Occasionally, a painful inflammation such as osteoarthritis or bursitis may arise.)
The good news is, there are several things you can do to relieve the pain or discomfort. (If significant redness, pain or limitation of motion occurs, call your doctor.)
* When buying shoes, do so late in the day, when your feet are the largest. Wear shoes that allow for half an inch between your longest toe and the tip of the shoe; the toe box should accommodate your foot in a normal position. Wear low-heeled shoes.
* Use bunion pads, available at many drugstores, for cushioning.
* If the bunion is inflamed, apply ice (enclosed in something such as a plastic bag) for about five minutes, two or three times a day. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can also help relieve the pain.
Source: StayWell Co.
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A mild or moderate bunion is a small bump on the side of the foot at the base of the big toe. It forms when the big toe turns in toward the second toe. This pushes the joint at the base of the big toe out to the side.
A severe bunion is a large bump on the side of the foot. It forms as the big toe turns in even farther. The big toe often moves under the second toe.