3 Reasons Bunions Become Painful

June 5, 2023
3 Reasons Bunions Become Painful

Bunions become painful for 3 reasons: the bunion developing, the bunion growing, and the bunion further complicating. Here is a closer look at how this painful process happens, and some steps to take to lessen the discomfort of painful bunions. 

What Makes a Bunion Painful?

Bunions are painful because of the additional pressure and compression they create around the toes. This pain starts when the bunion first forms and is further complicated the longer the bunion persists.

A bunion is formed when the big toe points outward from the second toe. This causes a bump, or bunion, to appear on the inside edge of the toe. These bumps are more common in women than in men. Bunions can also be hereditary. 

Some Common Causes of Bunions 

If you have an abnormal alignment in the foot bones, you’re more likely to form a bunion. Narrow-toed high-heeled shoes also may lead to bunion development. This is often why women are more commonly affected by bunions than men. 

Most often, bunions are caused by prolonged pressure on the feet, especially between the big and second toe. As the condition worsens, the pain may grow worse. The base of the big toe may grow additional bone or a fluid-filled sac as a result of the process. If extra bone grows where the base of the big toe meets the foot it can cause additional pain and complications.

Bunion Symptoms

Bunions typically appear with red thickened skin along the inside edge of the base of the big toe. There’s a bony bump at the first toe joint, with decreased movement at the site. The joint will be painful, and pressure from shoes will exacerbate it.

Due to the misalignment, the big toe may turn outward towards the other toes, even crossing the second toe. As a result, additional corns and calluses can develop at the site of overlap.

This may lead to additional pain while wearing shoes and difficulty finding shoes that aren’t painful to wear.

Bunion Self-Care Tips

When a bunion first develops there are a few bunion self-care tips you should implement immediately. In the early stages of bunion development, try these self-care techniques. 

  • Try wearing different shoes to reduce the strain on your toes 
  • Refrain from wearing any shoes at all whenever possible such as when at home or if sitting at your desk during the workday 
  • Start by wearing wide-toed shoes. In some cases, this can solve the problem and prevent more treatment from being necessary 
  • Wear felt or foam pads on the foot to protect the bunion, or special spacers to separate the toes. These spacers are available at most drug stores.
  • If you must wear shoes at home, cut a hole in a pair of old comfortable shoes to wear around the house.
  • Stretch the calf muscle regularly of the affected leg to help better align the toes.

Talk to your doctor or medical provider about other solutions that may improve foot position, such as orthotic inserts. 

When to Consider Bunion Surgery

If the bunion grows even more painful, bunion surgery may be necessary. A special surgery called a bunionectomy removes the bump and realigns the toe. The exact procedure and whether it’s right for you should be a discussion between you and your doctor.

Surgery reduces bunion pain for many people, but not for everyone. Surgery will also impact your ability to wear tight or fashionable shoes, especially immediately after the procedure.

Contact your provider if pain continues even after self-care efforts are taken. This is especially true if the pain is so unbearable that you are unable to continue regular activities. If the pain doesn’t improve with rest or prevents you from wearing a shoe entirely, see a doctor immediately. 

Also, be aware of any potential signs of infection in the area, such as redness or swelling. If you suffer from diabetes, you need to be especially aware of these infection symptoms due to the increased risk of limb loss.

Get Painful Bunions Treated at Diablo Foot and Ankle

Most bunions will clear up with home care and treatment, but if the pain worsens or complicates you should seek professional medical advice. Diablo Foot and Ankle is here to help with treatment options for your bunions. Call or schedule an appointment with one of Diablo’s friendly and professional podiatric experts today.

Common Podiatry Questions

What is a Podiatrist?

A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the foot and ankle.

What does a Podiatrist treat?

A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in the medical and surgical care of the feet. They can treat conditions such as ingrown toenails, fungal toenails, bunions, hammertoes, and plantar fasciitis.

What’s the difference between a Podiatrist and Orthopedist?

A Podiatrist and Orthopedist are very similar to each other in many ways. They use most of the same tools and treat a lot of the same conditions. The main difference between the two is their medical training. Podiatrists are trained exclusively on the foot and ankle, whereas the Orthopedic is trained on the whole body with an additional year of training on the foot and ankle.

Where are your Podiatry clinics located?

At Diablo Foot & Ankle, we treat our foot and ankle patients in two main clinic locations in Walnut Creek and in Antioch California. Dr. Eman Elmi and Dr. Shayan Esspoor are Board Certified Podiatrists who specialize in the treatment of foot and ankle disorders.

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