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A bunion is not only the visible bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of the big toe or on the side of the foot, there are also underlying bony changes that have taken or are taking place in the forefoot.  Bunions are most often the result of an inherited foot type.  Parents who suffer from poor foot mechanics can pass their problematic foot type on to their children, who in turn are prone to developing bunions.

Symptoms may include pain, inflammation, redness, burning, and possibly some numbness of the big toe joint from the constant irritation, rubbing, and friction of the enlargement against shoes.  As the bunion enlarges, calluses, sores between the toes, ingrown toenails and restricted movement of the big toe may occur.  The pain may be persistent or intermittent and may make everyday walking difficult.

At Ankle & Foot of Edmonds, your podiatric physician and surgeon will be able to readily diagnose your bunion since the base of your big toe or the side of your foot will have a bony prominence.  However, your podiatrist will want to assess the degree of the bunion deformity and the changes that have already occurred.  Doctors Wardle, O’Rourke and Nilson may ask you to move your big toe up and down to determine if your range of motion is limited.   They will look for signs of redness or swelling and ask you about your pain.  They will take x-rays periodically to determine the severity of your bunion and whether it is advancing.  Bunions tend to get larger and more painful if left untreated, making non-surgical treatments less of an option.

The physicians at Ankle & Foot of Edmonds will have a number of treatment options for you after they have evaluated your foot.  They will begin with conservative, non-surgical treatments that may relieve the pain and swelling.  Your physician may recommend roomy, comfortable shoes with plenty of space for your toes and to forgo shoes with high heels.  You may be instructed on how to tape and pad your foot to help minimize pain over the area of the bunion.  NSAID’s (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories) such as ibuprofen may be advised to help control the pain or cortisone injections may be advised.  Orthotics (shoe inserts) either custom or over-the-counter, may be prescribed by your podiatric surgeon.  The orthotics  can help distribute pressure evenly when you move your feet, reducing your symptoms and preventing your bunion from getting worse.  When your bunion interferes with your daily activities, you may wish to discuss surgery with your doctor.  Together you can decide if surgery is best for you.  The podiatric surgeons at Ankle & Foot of Edmonds are experienced in a variety of surgical procedures to treat bunions and no particular surgery is best for every problem. Knowing what caused your bunion is essential for choosing the best procedure to ensure correction without recurrence and your surgeon will select the procedure or combination of procedures for your particular case.

There are some steps that may help prevent, or at least slow, the progression of bunions.   Our doctors will recommend that you wear comfortable shoes that fit well and especially avoid shoes with a narrow toe box. If your foot flattens excessively, they will recommend that you wear supportive shoes, and if necessary, get custom molded orthotics.  They recommend that you visit your podiatrist at the first signs or symptoms of a bunion deformity, as early treatment may stop or slow its progression.

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