A bunion is a serious condition affecting your big toe and surrounding joints, most common in women. It occurs when the big toe bends towards the adjacent toe at an unnatural angle, causing the joint at its base – the metatarsal bone – to protrude outward. Bunions can be extremely painful, as you place your body weight on the affected joint while walking.
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In order to understand the appropriate time to see a podiatrist, it is first important to discuss the implications of bunions:
There are a multitude of common factors that can cause bunions, including a genetically weak foot structure that becomes more susceptible to damage as you age. In some cases, bunions are caused by arthritis as your bones naturally become weaker. This problem can also be a result of years wearing tight, high-heeled shoes that gradually bend your toes out of proper alignment.
The most telling symptom of a bunion is a protrusion of the metatarsal bone, which can be accompanied by redness, swelling and severe pain. When you begin to experience any of these symptoms, seek help from your podiatrist immediately. If left untreated, a bunion will continue to develop over time and could potentially affect your ability to walk.
Bunion treatment options are highly varied and will generally depend on the severity of the case and other individual characteristics. Treatments can include anything from walking shoes and specialized orthopedic footwear to anti-inflammatory medication. In severe cases, you may require bunion surgery to relieve pain and restore proper foot function. If you have a history of bunions in your family, you can often prevent your children to inheriting the problem by bringing them into a podiatrist during their pre-teen years for a professional diagnosis.