Introduction

hurting bunions
Symptoms of Bunions

Bunions are a common foot condition that affects millions of people worldwide. A bunion is a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of the big toe, causing the toe to angle toward the other toes. Bunions can be caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes or having a foot injury. Recognizing the symptoms of bunions early is important to prevent the condition from worsening and to avoid surgery. In this article, we will discuss 7 common symptoms and the importance of seeking medical attention if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

Symptom 1: Pain and Discomfort

pain and discomfort in the foot
Pain and Discomfort

Bunions can cause pain and discomfort in the affected foot. The pain is often felt around the bunion area and can be sharp or dull. You may experience pain while standing, walking, or running. The pain can be exacerbated by wearing tight shoes that put pressure on the bunion. 

Over time, the pain may become chronic, making it difficult to perform daily activities like walking, standing for long periods, or participating in sports or exercise. If left untreated, the pain can worsen and may even require surgery. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your foot, you don’t have to just live with it, there are many treatment options available to you.

Symptom 2: Swelling and Redness

lesions in the foot
Swelling and Redness

Swelling and inflammation are common symptoms of bunions. The bunion area may become swollen and tender to the touch, making it uncomfortable to wear tight shoes or walk for long periods. In some cases, the skin around the bunion may also become red and warm to the touch. 

These symptoms are caused by the pressure on the joint and the surrounding tissues, which can become irritated and inflamed over time. If you are experiencing swelling and redness in your foot, it is important to seek medical attention to determine if you have a bunion and to develop a treatment plan.

Symptom 3: Bump on the Base of the Big Toe

A visible bump on the base of the big toe
Bump on the Base of the Big Toe

One of the most common symptoms of bunions is a visible bump on the base of the big toe. This bump is caused by the misalignment of the joint at the base of the toe, which causes the bone to protrude outwards. The bump may be small or large and can cause a noticeable change in the shape of the foot. In some cases, the toe may even overlap with the second toe. 

This can make it difficult to find shoes that fit comfortably and may require special footwear or modifications to be made to your shoes. If you have a visible bump on the base of your big toe, it is important to seek medical attention to determine if you have a bunion and to develop a treatment plan. You can do this in person or online with a Gait Happens clinician during a Virtual Consultation

Symptom 4: Corns and Calluses

Corns and Calluses
Corns and Calluses

Corns and calluses, which are thickened, hardened areas of skin, commonly develop on the foot, usually around the bunion area, as another symptom of bunions. These can be painful and uncomfortable, especially when pressure is applied to the bunion, can also make it difficult to find comfortable shoes, as the pressure from the shoes can aggravate the condition.

Symptom 5: Restricted Movement of the Big Toe

Another symptom of bunions is restricted movement of the big toe. As the bunion grows, it can cause the big toe to become misaligned, which can limit its range of motion. This can make it difficult to move the big toe and may cause discomfort or pain when trying to do so. 

Restricted movement of the big toe can also affect your balance and stability, making it more difficult to walk or engage in physical activities. If you are experiencing restricted movement of the big toe, it is important to seek medical attention to see if you have a bunion.

Symptom 6: Numbness or Tingling

Numbness or Tingling
Numbness or Tingling

Numbness or tingling in the big toe or surrounding area is another possible symptom of bunions. This can be caused by nerve compression due to the misalignment of the joint at the base of the big toe. Numbness or tingling can also be accompanied by a burning or prickling sensation and may be more noticeable at night. Numbness or tingling can affect your daily activities, making it difficult to walk or stand for long periods of time. If you are experiencing numbness or tingling in your foot, you should see a clinician in person or virtually (to book a virtual consultation with a Gait Happens clinician, click here).

Symptom 7: Changes in Foot Shape

Bunions can cause noticeable changes in the shape of the foot. The joint at the base of the big toe becomes misaligned, causing the toe to angle towards the other toes. This shift in the angle of the toes can cause the foot to take on an unnatural shape, which can make it difficult to find comfortable shoes. Shoes that fit well in the past may now be uncomfortable due to the changes in foot shape. 

When to See a Doctor

Doctors discussing symptoms of bunions
When to See a Doctor

Left untreated, bunions can worsen over time and can lead to chronic pain, difficulty walking, and even deformity of the foot.

You should see a doctor if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain or discomfort in the bunion area
  • Swelling and redness in the bunion area
  • A visible bump on the base of the big toe
  • Restricted movement of the big toe
  • Numbness or tingling in the big toe or surrounding area
  • Changes in foot shape or difficulty finding comfortable shoes

A clinician can diagnose bunions and recommend a treatment plan. To see a Gait Happens clinician virtually, click here. Treatment options for bunions include:

  • Wearing comfortable shoes that do not put pressure on the bunion
  • Using orthotic devices to provide support and alleviate pain (if necessary)
  • Physical therapy to improve foot strength and flexibility
  • In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the misalignment of the joint and alleviate pain.  This a LAST RESORT and should only be implemented if the pain is so severe that is deterring one’s ability to enjoy life

If you are experiencing symptoms of bunions, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent the condition from worsening and can help you maintain foot health and comfort.

Conclusion

In conclusion, bunions are a common foot condition that can cause a range of symptoms, including pain, swelling, restricted movement of the big toe, and changes in foot shape. It’s important to recognize the symptoms of bunions early to prevent the condition from worsening and to avoid surgery.

Early diagnosis and treatment can help alleviate pain and discomfort and can prevent the condition from progressing. Remember, treatment options for bunions include wearing comfortable shoes, using orthotic devices, taking pain relievers, and physical therapy. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the misalignment of the joint.

With early recognition and treatment, you can maintain foot health and comfort, and prevent the condition from worsening over time.

FAQs

  1. What causes bunions?

Bunions may be caused by poor-fitting footwear, weaknesses in the feet, and may be related to connective tissue laxity.

  1.  Can bunions be prevented?

While bunions cannot always be prevented, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk, such as wearing comfortable shoes that fit well and avoiding high heels.

  1. How are bunions diagnosed?

A podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon can diagnose bunions through a physical examination and X-rays.

  1. Do all bunions require surgery?

No, not all bunions require surgery. Treatment options for bunions include wearing comfortable shoes, using orthotic devices, taking pain relievers, and physical therapy. Surgery is typically reserved for severe cases where other treatments have not been successful.

  1. Is bunion surgery painful?

Bunion surgery can be painful, but pain can be managed with medication and rest. Your doctor will discuss pain management options with you prior to the surgery.

  1. How long does it take to recover from bunion surgery?

Recovery time from bunion surgery can vary, but typically takes several weeks to a few months. Your doctor will provide specific instructions on post-surgical care and activity restrictions. It is mandatory to implement physical therapy following bunion surgery to restore function.  One of our GH providers can help through a Virtual Consultation.

  1. Can bunions come back after surgery?

While surgery can correct the misalignment of the joint and alleviate pain, there is a risk that bunions can recur. Following post-surgical care instructions and wearing proper footwear can help reduce this risk.