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Do none of your shoes seem to fit comfortably? Is your big toe consistently swollen or sore? Is your foot pain sometimes too intense to walk? These are all signs that you may be suffering from a bunion.

Bunions, also known as hallux valgus, are bony protrusions at the base of the big toe. Bunions are quite common, affecting almost one-third of Americans. Older adults, particularly women, are at greater risk of developing bunions.

How Do I Know If I Have A Bunion?

Severe bunions can be easy to identify, as they appear as large, swollen bumps at the base of the big toe. Due to the protrusions and soreness bunions can cause, regular shoes may become too uncomfortable to wear. Other symptoms of bunions include an inability to bend your big toe and repeated numbness in your big toe. If you suspect you may be suffering from a bunion, you should see a podiatrist as soon as possible.

What Causes Bunions?

While the exact cause of bunions is unclear, experts have identified a few risk factors that may contribute to the development of bunions. Your inherited foot type, such as being flatfoot, is major one indicator. In other words, if you have a family history of bunions, you are more likely to develop them yourself. Other factors include foot injuries, rheumatoid arthritis, and other foot stressors.

Podiatrists disagree on whether wearing tight or too narrow shoes can cause bunions directly or only contribute to their development. Whether the impact is direct or not, you should always wear well-fitting shoes and see a doctor if you experience persistent discomfort in your feet.

How Are Bunions Treated?

Bunion treatment will usually begin with conservative options meant to reduce the pain and discomfort caused by bunions. Common treatments include bunion pads, footwear changes including special orthotics (shoe inserts), anti-inflammatory drugs, and physical therapy.

If walking is still painful after these nonsurgical treatments, your doctor may recommend surgery. There are several approaches to surgically treating bunions, but Griffin Health offers minimally invasive bunion surgery. The minimally invasive approach allows for smaller incisions, resulting in less post-operative pain, a reduced need for pain medication, and a much faster recovery time.

Dr. Nguyen’s Advice

Dr. Khoa Nguyen is a board certified podiatrist who has completed thousands of successful podiatric surgeries. Here’s his advice to anyone who may be suffering from bunions:

Since a bunion is a joint deformity, it creates instability at the level of the big toe joint and can progressively get worse over time. Oftentimes, patients don’t experience significant pain or discomfort at the bunion itself, but pain to the bottom in the second toe joint is a secondary problem that is often ignored. The second toe can subsequently become hammered, deviated, and overlapped by the big toe. In the worst case scenario, rubbing and irritation on the second toe can cause an open wound and eventual infection if left untreated.

Foot pain doesn’t have to get in your way! Learn more about Griffin Health’s expert podiatrists and how they can help you keep moving forward.