Bunions are something your grandmother used to complain about, right? Well, unfortunately, bunions plague today's American adult, too, with pain, inflammation, redness, and changes in gait. What exactly is a bunion? How can it be treated? And, if you have one, could bunion surgery help? For answers, learn from the experts at Diamond Podiatry in Macungie, Quakertown, and Bethlehem, PA. This team of four board-certified foot surgeons Dr. Robert Diamond, Dr. Brent Bernstein, Dr. Jung Lee and Dr. Eric Bronfenbrenner know this deformity well and can help you overcome it.
Exactly what is a bunion?
A bunion is a bony prominence located at the base of the big toe on the inner aspect of the foot. The location is the metatarsophalangeal joint, and it's particularly susceptible to pressure from tightly-fitting shoes, overuse, high heels, and obesity.
While people of all ages fall prey to the discomforts of bunions, women and the elderly tend to develop them more easily. Also, bunions seem to run in families. So if your grandmother had bunions, you could develop them, too.
Symptoms of bunions
Bunions can cause considerable pain and deformity. To compensate for the discomfort, the affected foot often develops thick skin on the sole or corns and calluses on the bunion itself or on other toes.
As a bunion worsens, it may turn the big toe toward the second and third toe, even overlapping them in extreme cases. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons says that claw toe and hammer toe deformities result from untreated bunions.
Your foot doctor at Diamond Podiatry can tell by physical examination and digital X-rays what treatments would help your bunion. Common sense strategies work in most instances and may include:
- Shoe padding
- Custom-made shoe inserts, or orthotics
- Stretching exercises and physical therapy
- Shoes with low heels, good support, and room in the toes
- Splints to re-align the big toe joint
Your podiatrist will customize a treatment plan based on his findings, your symptoms, and your lifestyle.
When surgery is needed
Bunionectomy is a last resort. However, when deformity, inflammation, stiffness, and pain seem intractable, your foot doctor may recommend it.
Foot surgeons approach bunion correction in a number of ways. Broadly, these operations center on the head of the metatarsal, or foot, bones. The very top of the bone is modified and the joint realigned and fixed in place with a screw or pin.
After surgery and healing, your foot doctor advises a program of physical therapy and stretching. Of course, proper footwear is a must to keep correct gait and avoid tension and pressure on the big toe joint.
Don't wait any longer. Contact Diamond Podiatry for a bunion consultation. In Bethlehem and Macungie, phone (610) 865-0311, and in Quakertown, call (215) 529-5222.