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What you need to know about bunions

One of the most common foot problems I see in my clinics is bunions. Unfortunately, bunions cannot fully be prevented but you can take some simple steps to stop them from getting worse.

What is a bunion?

A bunion is a lump that forms on the base of the big toe and is mainly caused by a deformity of the joint. Bunions are most common in women, but anyone can get them. They also tend to run in families, so chances are if your close relatives have had a bunion, you may as well.

What are the symptoms of a bunion?

You will be able to tell if you have a bunion if your big toe does not face forward and is pointing toward your other toes. You will also be able to see a hard lump on the side of your big toe joint, which could be red and painful. However, you may not experience symptoms from a bunion for years, but they often tend to cause pain from rubbing against tight-fitting footwear.

Can you prevent a bunion?

Unfortunately, bunions cannot be prevented and can only be treated with surgery, but you can try to stop them from getting worse and less painful by taking a few steps early on:

  1. Wear wide shoes with a low heel and soft sole (especially if you do a lot of walking)
  2. Do not wear high or pointed heels on a regular basis (only for very special occasions)
  3. Do not wear shoes that are too tight or squash your toes (this goes for street shoes and sport shoes)
  4. There are several splints, toe separators and arch supports available that can reduce discomfort temporarily

What does bunion surgery involve?

The procedure itself takes about 45 minutes and involves dividing the bones in the foot and fixing them into the corrected position with screws. Bunion surgery is done as a daycase, so you will be discharged the same day and will not need to stay overnight in hospital.

It can take some time to recover from bunion surgery, as you will need to stay off of your feet for up to two weeks and avoid driving for up to eight weeks. As a patient of Total Orthopaedics, you will have access to an app called myrecovery, giving you access to bespoke treatment and recovery information to help you track and monitor your progress post-surgery.

What if I don’t like the look of a bunion?

Surgery should be performed only on a bunion causing pain, I would recommend against surgery for cosmetic reasons.

When should I see a specialist about a bunion?

Don’t wait until a painful bunion is interfering with your everyday life to seek help. Even if your bunion isn’t painful yet, a specialist can discuss options which could delay the need for surgery.

Mr Pinak Ray

Mr Pinak Ray is a Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon with a special interest in foot and ankle surgery. Mr Ray provides state-of-the-art medical and surgical services by utilising his expertise in foot and ankle conditions, including arthritis, tendon injuries and deformity corrections. He is an expert in sports related injuries of the foot, ankle and knee.

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