Bunions might look like bone growths, but they’re actually a deformity of the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint. This deformity occurs when the big toe is pushed inward and the metatarsal bones turn outward.
You’re at higher risk of developing a bunion if you’re female, wear tight shoes, have arthritis, or participate in sports that involve repetitive movements.
Bunions develop slowly, so it may take years to notice changes in your foot. Left untreated, bunions can make it hard for you to walk or to find shoes that fit.
Our podiatry experts at Bay Area Foot Care, with 10 locations in and around San Francisco, California, regularly treat patients with bunions, corns, hammertoes, and other foot problems. Here they share the most common symptoms of bunions.
The most noticeable bunion symptom is a hard bump at the base of your toe. This bump isn’t movable and doesn't hurt in the early stages.
However, as the bump grows, the toe pushes even farther inward toward the other toes, causing a deformity of the toes. In some cases, the bulging bump may make it hard to wear shoes, as the friction between the bump and the inside of the shoe may cause blisters, corns, or calluses.
Not everyone experiences this symptom, but in some cases, the bulging bump may redden and become swollen and inflamed.
If this happens to you, opt for comfortable shoes that won’t crowd your big toe. Applying an ice pack may also help reduce inflammation.
You may experience stiffness in your big toe due to the MTP joint being pushed against the rest of your toes, crowding them. As time goes on, the stiffness in your big toe may extend to the rest of your toes.
In more advanced stages, bunions can become sensitive and painful. The pain may worsen when you wear tight shoes or after you spend a lot of time on your feet. Rest, ice packs, and massages may help relieve these symptoms.
Depending on your symptoms and the size of your bunion, our experts here at Bay Area Foot Care may start by recommending customized orthotic devices, nighttime toe splints, or over-the-counter pain medications.
If conservative approaches aren’t enough, we may recommend surgery. Invasive treatments are usually necessary only when the bunion is big enough to cause pain and discomfort.
Want to stop your bunion from progressing? Contact us by phone or online to schedule an appointment and get expert advice on managing your bunion.
Bay Area Foot Care is conveniently located in San Rafael, Castro Valley, Pleasanton, Oakland, Walnut Creek, and San Leandro, California, as well as the Lower Pacific Heights, Inner Richmond, NoPa, and Mission District neighborhoods in San Francisco.