Bunion

If the joint that connects your big toe to your foot has a swollen, sore bump, you may have a bunion. More than 1/3 of women in America have bunions, a common deformity often blamed on wearing tight, narrow shoes, and high heels. Bunions may occur in families, but many are from wearing tight shoes.

With a bunion, the base of your big toe gets larger and sticks out. The skin over it may be red and tender. Wearing any type of shoe may be painful. This joint flexes with every step you take. The bigger your bunion gets, the more it hurts to walk. Your big toe may angle toward your second toe, or even move all the way under it. An advanced bunion may make your foot look deformed. If your bunion gets too severe, it may be difficult to walk.

Relief from Bunions

Most bunions are treatable without surgery. Prevention is always best. To minimize your chances of developing a bunion, never force your foot into a tight shoe that doesn't fit. Choose shoes that conform to the shape of your feet. Go for shoes with wide insteps, broad toes and soft soles. Avoid shoes that are short, tight or sharply pointed, and those with heels higher than 2 1/4 inches. If you already have a bunion, wear shoes that are roomy enough to not put pressure on it. This should relieve most of your pain. You may want to have your shoes stretched out professionally. You may also try protective pads to cushion the painful area.

If your bunion has progressed to the point where you have difficulty walking, or experience pain despite accommodative shoes, you may need surgery. Bunion surgery realigns bone, ligaments, tendons and nerves so your big toe can be brought back to its correct position. Orthopaedic surgeons have several techniques to ease your pain. Recovery usually occurs over a three- to six-month period and may include persistent swelling and stiffness.

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