If you've been bestowed with the gift of bunions, you might think you’re resigned to regular foot pain forever — especially if you happen to choose love high heels or lead an active lifestyle. Aching feet from bunions can be a nuisance at best to totally debilitating at worst, making it essential to treat them accordingly. Luckily, there is relief — we've rounded up some of the best bunion correctors around to help ease the throbbing of your poor, smarting dogs.
What are bunions?
One of society's most common foot ailments, “a bunion is a foot deformity where there is a bump on the inside base of your big toe joint, New York-based foot and ankle surgeon Dr. Sophia Solomon D.P.M., explains to FIRST fo Women. "In this deformity, your big toe tends to deviate towards your second toe.”
While some are merely unsightly or minor nuisances, others are more problematic. “Bunions range from completely painless to [being] so painful that it is almost impossible to walk,” says Dr. Dana Canuso, a New Jersey-based podiatric surgeon.
She explains that while bunion pain typically progresses over time, it can come on more suddenly in rare instances.
“You will know you have a bunion if you notice a bump on the side of your big toe,” says New York podiatrist Dr. Emily Splichal, DPM, MS, CES, who notes that patients usually notice their shoes feeling tighter or pain in the great toe joint when walking.
Solomon notes that “redness and skin irritation at the bony inside base of your big toe” can also be indicative of a bunion.
What causes bunions?
If you think you’ve got a bunion forming, don’t fret: “Bunions are very common and can even begin in childhood,” said Canuso.
She's not kidding: A 2018 article from Informed cites an estimation of one in every three people over the age of 65 having a bunion to some degree.
“A typical bunion patient, however, is a middle-aged woman or man that has low arches or flat feet and has developed the bunion over time," Canuso says.
Bunions can also happen after regularly wearing tight and narrow shoes, such as high heels, which place pressure on the toes, which is why athletes like dancers and women are more prone to getting them. All three experts recommend seeing a doctor or podiatrist as soon as you notice pain or your bunion begins to interfere with your everyday life due to pain or a deformity that makes it difficult to wear shoes.
Can bunions cause other health problems?
In severe cases, the joints are impacted, and the big toe can slide beneath the second toe, putting “the joints as risk for arthritis formation," according to Splichal.
Our experts explained that bunions can also lead to several secondary health concerns. “Bunions can cause arthritis of the big toe joint, hammering of the lesser toes, plantar plate tears of the second toe, and metatarsalgia [pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot]," says Solomon.
And, if your walking is impacted by foot pain from a bunion, it “can affect your knees, hips and back,” adds Canuso. “Even your neck and shoulders can be thrown out of alignment by a painful or significant bunion that causes you to walk with a compensated gait.”
How to Treat Bunions
All three experts agreed that “when treating a bunion ... you want to begin with conservative measures." “These may include bunion strappings and padding, orthotics you wear in your shoes, special shoes, and over the counter and prescription anti-inflammatories," Canuso says.
While steroid injections or even surgery may become necessary, she notes that such measures are usually a last resort after other conservative treatments have failed. Ultimately, she says "Surgery is the only way to correct the bone deformities caused by a bunion," with over-the-counter remedies work to correct soft tissue or bunion symptoms.
If you're not yet to the point of surgery and are looking for mild relief, there are plenty of treatments you can try in the meantime, and we've rounded up the top of the heap. Keep scrolling to shop FIRST's picks for the best products for getting relief from bunion pain.
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