Ignoring a bunion won’t make it go away and no over-the-counter treatment will cure it. Letting a bunion go for too long has the potential to cause even more damage.
Is This a Bunion?
Bunions, are a foot deformity seen in about a third of the population over the age of 65. It is more common in women, researchers have found that genetics can cause it.
A bunion is a structural foot problem that involves the joint of your big toe. As time goes on, your large toe moves toward your other toes, pushing them out of place and causing a painful protrusion of the joint. Although there are many over-the-counter “remedies,” like splints and cushions, the only known cure for bunions is surgery.
One of the biggest misconceptions about bunions is that they are as harmless as a blister and they’ll fade away as slowly as they appeared. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. This is a deep skeletal issue that only surgery can correct.
What may throw people off is that you can live for a long time with a bunion causing discomfort. However, the issue will progress and eventually cause intense discomfort and pain. Untreated bunions also cause other problems.
Here’s what can happen when Bunions are not untreated:
- Severe and worsening discomfort/pain: Unchecked bunions can become extremely swollen and red. If ignored, the pain can travel up the leg and into the back and hip.
- Crossover toe: When a bunion goes untreated, eventually the second toe sits on top of the big toe. Essentially, it “crosses over” your foot.
- Metatarsalgia a.k.a hammertoe: Ignoring a bunion can cause your middle toes to crossover or become deformed. In the worst cases, pain in the ball of your foot causes the middle toe joints to stiffen into a ball.
- Difficulty standing up or walking: Bunions can change a person’s entire gait and throw them off balance. The worse they are, the harder it becomes to walk. Unchecked bunions in older people can also increase their chances of disastrous falls.
- Osteoarthritis or Bursitis: If the joint in the big toe has sustained extensive damage from an untreated bunion, it may cause the cartilage in the joint to deteriorate. It can inflame the sac between ligament, joints, and tissues to where bone rubs on bone.
Bunions are a serious issue and patients should fix them as soon as possible.
Myths About Bunion Surgery
Since bunions are so common, it should come as no surprise that there are a lot of myths about their cause and treatment. Patients can get bunions for several reasons. The only known cure is surgery. Here are a few reasons people may avoid bunion surgery when the reason may be an urban legend:
Bunion surgery is painful.
Modern procedures like minimally invasive bunion surgery cause almost no pain. In fact, many patients report absolutely no pain.
Bunions come back after surgery.
This is far more common with conventional bunion surgery than with a minimally invasive procedure. Modern techniques have almost completely solved this issue.
Bunion surgery will put you on crutches.
With minimally invasive procedures, patients have surgery and walk out of the operating room the same day. It’s as simple as a single stitch. The doctor will apply a local numbing agent and complete the entire procedure within a few hours. They then fit the patient with a small surgical boot and send them walking out.
Bunion surgery will make you miss work.
One of the prime reasons people avoid bunion surgery is that they feel they can’t afford it. Not the procedure as much as the time spent away from work. It’s a misconception that treating a bunion will put you up for weeks. Quite the contrary. A person who receives minimally invasive surgery can walk as soon as the procedure is over.
When to Call a Doctor
If you are unsure about your symptoms, there are some common signs that show an individual needs to see a doctor.
When to call a doctor about a bunion:
- Persistent swelling in and around the big toe.
- Pain that is causing difficulty walking or standing.
- Deformity of the big toe.
- Stiffness, numbness, or inability to move the big toe.
Your shoes may not fit anymore as the joint bulge will increase the overall width of your foot. A person may need to buy two different sized shoes or none. If your middle toes are being pushed up, shoes may be the most uncomfortable thing in the world.
Don’t wait until it’s difficult to walk. Modern medicine makes a variety of out-patient procedures possible. surgery that once required patients to stay at the hospital. Ignoring a bunion will start with discomfort and can end with losing the ability to walk. A simple treatment today could mean the world to your feet tomorrow.
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