Bunions—those bony protrusions that can develop over the first metatarsal bone or big toe joint—remain a bit of a mystery.
Bunions can range from mildly unattractive to a major source of pain. Besides the definition, bunions can vary in terms of how and why they develop, who gets them and when, and what symptoms they may cause.
One thing that everyone can agree on with bunions is they are hard to ignore, especially when they’re painful.
“My best advice is to have an evaluation with a foot specialist when you first see a bunion developing or have any pain in your big toe joint,” says Dr. Raspovic. “There are a few conservative treatment options that can help improve discomfort.”
Shoes are often the cause of bunions, including high heels and shoes with narrow toes. Although, some who wear high heels never develop bunions.
One of the easiest ways to prevent bunions is to wear the proper shoe, according to Dr. Raspovic.
“One of the best preventative and therapeutic measures for bunions is wearing the right shoe for your foot, especially one that avoids excessive pressure on your toes,” she says. “It can be helpful to go to a good store where you can get your feet accurately measured so you can then find the proper size and fit.”
Outside of changing shoes, one can wearing orthotics for arch support and take anti-inflammatory medication, if the problem persists.
Surgery is only recommended when other approaches have failed and the pain is so severe that daily activities and quality of life are affected.
Depending on the extent of one’s surgery, the recovery time can take up to 12 weeks. The recovery is different for each patient based on what surgical intervention is needed to correct the bunion properly.
With early detection and specialty medical care, many people can avoid surgery, says Dr. Raspovic.