The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Bunions Are Not Funions

Posted by on Friday, March 9th, 2012

What rhymes with onion but is found on your foot? A bunion!

Like an onion, a bunion can make you cry, because they can hurt and also because they’re so darn ugly. I know. I have one.

Let’s dive into the world of bunions.

What are bunions? A bunion is a lump protruding from the area right below your big toe joint.

Wow, that does sound ugly. How do you get them? Imagine someone constantly pushing your big toe in towards the rest of your toe. As that happens, the first metatarsal bone, the bone below the toe, is forced outward. That creates the lump of bone known as a bunion. When the little toe is pushed inward, that forces out the fifth metatarsal bone, forming a bunionette. Aww, isn’t that cute? No. No, it’s not.

That’s nice. Now really, how do you get them? Oh, you want to know what would force the toes in and cause a bunion? Some people are physically prone to them and can’t avoid them. Most are self-inflicted, though. I can tell you how I got mine: lots of running, and something about the way my foot strikes the ground forced the big toe on my right foot in, creating a mean little bunion.

However, a much more common cause is shoes that are too small, too tight, or shoes that force your toes into an unnatural shape. Think pointy toed stilettos (see? we told you stilettos were bad for you!). Orthoinfo says more than half of all American women have bunions; undoubtedly a large percentage of those women get their bunions from those narrow toed shoes fashion has told us to worship, even as they destroy our feet. Bad fashion! Bad fashion!

Okay, bunions are ugly, so what? I’ve got my high-heeled, pointy-toed shoes on to cover them. Not so what–your bunions can rub against the inside of your shoes, creating redness, rawness, and eventually calluses. When you take a step, your weight will fall onto your bunion, making every step painful.

What should I do about my bunions, then? If your bunion isn’t too painful, then you can live with it just by making smarter shoe choices. Wear shoes that are shaped like your foot, not like a triangle. Make sure your toes can move and aren’t squashed together. Stay with heels under three inches high. And of course, make sure you’re wearing the right size shoes! If you still need a little relief, you can buy foot pads to put under your bunion inside your shoe.

If you’re bunion is really bad and it makes you wince with every step, then you may need to consider surgery. During bunion surgery, a doctor makes a small incision near your bunion, goes in and realigns the bone and soft tissue to return to a more normal shape. Sometimes small wires, plates, or screws are required to hold everything in their new places. Bunion surgery usually only require a local anesthetic and is done on an outpatient basis. It takes an hour or less.

People are often scared of bunion surgery, fearing the pain like a child fears a monster under the bed. Get over those fears, though! Bunion surgery is not the most painful surgery out there, as some claim. If your bunion is small, the recovery can be very quick; if it was a more complex surgery for a larger bunion, then recovery may be longer, but you never know what you’ll learn while you’re on crutches after bunion surgery! Just keep reminding yourself how much better you’ll feel after you get this fixed up and it will pass in no time. Then look! Beautiful feet again!

If you’re unsure whether you have a bunion or are sure you do and want to find out what to do about it, contact us at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, and Dr. Ryan Minara have helped thousands of people get back on their feet.

If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.