If you google “lump on side of foot,” you’re most likely going to find that you’ve got bunions, gout, blisters, or possibly even a tumor, though tumors are more often found in other areas of the body, and blisters will heal naturally. As for the former possibilities, these are both common conditions that affect the foot, and it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish the difference between the two. Each causes painful red lumps to form on the side of the foot, though gout can also pop up in other joints in the body. When you notice this lump beginning to form on your own feet, it’s important to be aware of the difference so that you can seek the proper treatment. But how can you tell which it could be?

Is the Lump on the Side of Your Foot Gout?

Your foot hurts, you’re aware of that much, but how can you tell whether it is gout or bunions? Well, the symptoms are actually fairly similar, and you wouldn’t be blamed for confusing the two. Gout, being an advanced form of arthritis, typically consists of aching joint pain that can last from hours to over a day, swollen and reddened lumps on the afflicted area that are sore to the touch, and a lack of mobility. Like gout, bunions also cause a lump on the side of the foot that can often become red and sore. The calcified bone deposits force the toe to bend at awkward angles that become uncomfortable, unsightly, and difficult to manage. Movement is also limited and calluses can begin to form where the bump is present. Based on these criteria, you might not be able to tell what the lump on the side of your foot means just yet.

What Causes a Lump on the Side of Your Foot?

While both bunions and gout share some similar symptoms, there are still fundamental differences between the two, such as the causes. Bunions can occur for a number of reasons, but what essentially happens when the bone of the big toe (and occasionally the small toe) is pulled and bent off-center towards the inside of the foot. One attribution to this is the constant rubbing of your toe against the inside of your shoe over a long period of time. This is why it is important to wear shoes or boots that fit your foot properly. In cases where this is not the initial cause, it can still make the condition worse. They can also be caused by the genetic structure of your foot, such as the arch or level of flatness, combined with continuous walking, running, or standing on hard surfaces. Have your high-heels been bothering you lately? It could be that you’ve developed a bunion.

As for gout, it’s less about the bone and more about the joints. It occurs when there is a build-up of uric acid in the blood. The body creates this acid in order to break down purines, which occur naturally and through purine-rich foods, such as red meat, liver, and other edible organs. It is also found in alcoholic drinks, fructose, and certain sea-food. This can typically be filtered out through your kidneys, but when too much is consumed it can cause gout. It crystallizes between joints–normally in the foot, but it can happen anywhere–and brings forth the symptoms associated with the ailment. If you know you eat a lot of red meat or drink frequently, it might mean your lump is gout.

Here are Your Treatment Options

When it comes to treatment options, the two conditions veer in different directions a bit. When dealing with bunions, lighter options include applying ice packs to reduce pain and swelling, taking over-the-counter medication, getting massages, and easy walks. You might also consider switching to a wider and more comfortable pair of shoes or wearing bunion correctors to combat the condition. However, these are only temporary solutions; to permanently fix your bunions, you’ll need to have surgery to get rid of them. 

Even with surgery, you have different treatment options. Traditional surgery often involves the use of hardware, a long incision, general anesthesia and a long recovery time. Minimally invasive surgery, like Northwest Surgery Center performs, involves very little hardware, a small incision, local anesthesia and a short recovery time. We’re not kidding when we say you can walk out of surgery and drive home.

Gout is a different story. Most of the time, it can subside with a diet change and certain medications, such as NSAIDs or corticosteroids. Committing to regular exercise and cutting back on foods high in purines, alcohol, and high-sugar drinks will help.

Closing Thoughts

If you are currently experiencing a lump on the side of your foot that could be bunions, gout or any of the options we’ve mentioned, seek the help you need to begin the healing process. If over-the-counter remedies have failed to meet your expectations, Northwest Surgery Center can determine which condition you have and give you the proper assistance, such as minimally invasive surgery to remove your bunions.

Reach out to Northwest Surgery Center or call our toll-free number at 800-873-1060.