Even though bunions are a common foot deformity, there are misconceptions about them. Many people may unnecessarily suffer the pain of bunions for years before seeking treatment.
What is a Bunion?
A bunion (also referred to as hallux valgus or hallux abducto valgus) is often described as a bump on the side of the big toe. But a bunion is more than that. The visible bump actually reflects changes in the bony framework of the front part of the foot. The big toe leans toward the second toe, rather than pointing straight ahead. This throws the bones out of alignment – producing the bunion’s “bump.”
Bunions are a progressive disorder. They begin with a leaning of the big toe, gradually changing the angle of the bones over the years and slowly producing the characteristic bump, which becomes increasingly prominent. Symptoms usually appear at later stages, although some people never have symptoms.
Bunions are most often caused by an inherited faulty mechanical structure of the foot. It is not the bunion itself that is inherited, but certain foot types that make a person prone to developing a bunion.
Although wearing shoes that crowd the toes won’t actually cause bunions, it sometimes makes the deformity get progressively worse. Symptoms may therefore appear sooner.
Symptoms, which occur at the site of the bunion, may include:
Pain or soreness
Inflammation and redness
A burning sensation
Symptoms occur most often when wearing shoes that crowd the toes, such as shoes with a tight toe box or high heels. This may explain why women are more likely to have symptoms than men. In addition, spending long periods of time on your feet can aggravate the symptoms of bunions.
Bunions are readily apparent – the prominence is visible at the base of the big toe or side of the foot. However, to fully evaluate the condition, the foot and ankle surgeon may take x-rays to determine the degree of the deformity and assess the changes that have occurred.
Because bunions are progressive, they don’t go away, and will usually get worse over time. But not all cases are alike – some bunions progress more rapidly than others. Once your surgeon has evaluated your bunion, a treatment plan can be developed that is suited to your needs.
Sometimes observation of the bunion is all that’s needed. To reduce the chance of damage to the joint, periodic evaluation and x-rays by your surgeon are advised.
In many other cases, however, some type of treatment is needed. Early treatments are aimed at easing the pain of bunions, but they won’t reverse the deformity itself. These include:
Changes in shoewear. Wearing the right kind of shoes is very important. Choose shoes that have a wide toe box and forgo those with pointed toes or high heels which may aggravate the condition.
Padding. Pads placed over the area of the bunion can help minimize pain. These can be obtained from your surgeon or purchased at a drug store.
Activity modifications. Avoid activity that causes bunion pain, including standing for long periods of time.
Medications. Oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may be recommended to reduce pain and inflammation.
Icing. Applying an ice pack several times a day helps reduce inflammation and pain.
Injection therapy. Although rarely used in bunion treatment, injections of corticosteroids may be useful in treating the inflamed bursa (fluid-filled sac located around a joint) sometimes seen with bunions.
Orthotic devices. In some cases, custom orthotic devices may be provided by the foot and ankle surgeon.
When Is Surgery Needed?
If non-surgical treatments fail to relieve bunion pain and when the pain of a bunion interferes with daily activities, it’s time to discuss surgical options with a foot and ankle surgeon. Together you can decide if surgery is best for you.
A variety of surgical procedures is available to treat bunions. The procedures are designed to remove the “bump” of bone, correct the changes in the bony structure of the foot, and correct soft tissue changes that may also have occurred. The goal of surgery is the reduction of pain.
In selecting the procedure or combination of procedures for your particular case, the foot and ankle surgeon will take into consideration the extent of your deformity based on the x-ray findings, your age, your activity level, and other factors. The length of the recovery period will vary, depending on the procedure or procedures performed.
This bunion demonstrates a contracted tendon pulling the big toe up and is dislocated.
Dr. Vaughn is THE best doctor I have ever met. Very personable, not in a rush, took time to thoroughly explain my problem and the treatment for it. He even helped calm my nerves over taking the medication prescribed to me. Fantastic doctor. Compelled me to write this because the experience left me with such a positive attitude for the rest of my day. The medical assistant was the bomb, too! She was absolutely relatable, friendly, funny, and took my mind off the pain! Thank you for treating me with so much kindness! I hope you guys see this.
- Britt T. 2/10/2020
Dr simonson is terrific! I went to 3 podiatrists in melbourne....no one found the problem with my foot....he found it in 5 minutes!!! I got a shot...he was so personable and funny and made me feel at ease...because of him...im not limping anymore!!! Thank you Dr. Simonson!
- Margie I. 2/7/2020
I went to a podiatrist for four months for plantar fasciitis. They never explained anything had me by expensive footwear and gave me several injections. I researched for another doctor and found Dr Simonson. Immediately I saw a difference he explained everything step by step to me. I had a simple procedure and I was back on my feet in four weeks. His office staff was lovely minimal wait time. I am so happy I found a realistic and compassionate doctor in my trying time.
- Vanessa Thompson. 0/6/2020
Dr. Simonson & Staff are efficient, providing excellent care and service. I started having issues shortly after our last podiatrist retired. Simonson was my 4th opinion. He assessed my situation thoroughly, offered options to resolve and helped me navigate options that eventually ended in routine surgery. The procedure went well. The pains are gone and I'm almost back to jogging!
- Valerie Citta. 3/12/2019
This is the first time visiting Dr Simonson's office . Called this morning and was seen the very same day as a new patient.
The Receptionist was VERY pleasant and accommodating. I must say the entire staff was professional and pleasant. I was extremely fortunate to get an appointment to see Dr. Vaughn today.
This is the best experience I had since moving to FL with doctors. He's extremely polite, professional and compassionate. He also made me more at ease with his diagnosis LOVED HIM!!!!I
Thanks again Dr Vaughn you are nothing but the BEST!
- Bella Kam. 1/25/2019
You would have never thought that the best was actually so close to home. After shopping around a lot, I'm glad I made the choice to come here to get my toenail removed.
- Bill Gates. 10/8/2018
Wow we went to see Dr. Vaughn today- and it was my best experience with our child with a doctor in my life. What a personable, knowledgeable, just wonderful doctor he is! I called this morning for an appointment short notice and they saw us right away. I highly recommend them!!!
- J. J.. 9/19/2018
Dr. Simonson is a wonderful doctor. I went in with balance issues and right away he asked about ankle sprains, of which I’ve had many. He moved my ankle around and found I had two torn tendons. He sent my for an MRI and he operated a few weeks later. I have a cute little scar on my ankle and I can walk much better. Dr. Simonson practiced under a plastic surgeon during his residency and is quite skilled at minimizing scars. He’s the best!
- Diane Cook. 5/20/2018
Went to him after a few years of complaining of knee and ankle pain. He said he thought it was more of a back issue. I went to a neurologist and had a MRI that revealed a severe hernia in my lower back. Prepping for surgery to relieve the pain I’ve had for several years. Thank you 🙏🏼
- Meredith Ott. 3/11/2018
Friendly staff and a fantastic and personable doctor. He diagnosed and treated my foot problem on my first visit. He was empathetic and competent. I highly recommend this practice.
- Michelle Lee. 7/2/2017
Dr Simonson did tendon rrpair surgery on my foot after conservative treatment failed. He did an excellent job. He is knowledgeable and friendly. Office staff is pleasant. My only negative is he is frequently behind appt times, but, in fairness to that, he spends time with his patients, answers questions and explains procedures well. Would recommend without hesitation.
- Angel Collins. 6/20/2017
- stephanie schobel. 1/22/2017
Feels like you are talking to a friend not a doctor.
- Charles Putnam. 5/20/2016
Best podiatrist in town! 👍🏻
- Josh Light. 1/21/2016
My husband had an ingrown toenail removed and it was done quickly and professionally. We would recommend this DPM Office for this procedure.