Soreness and Pain in Your Big Toe … Could It Be a Bunion?

GoutYou have a painful bump at the base joint of your big toe. Right where your big toe connects to your foot, you have soreness and pain that just won’t go away.  What could it be?  It could be a bunion…especially if you are a woman.

A common foot problem among women, bunions are often the result of wearing tight, narrow, high heeled shoes.  There is a genetic tendency for bunions, but it seems the majority of the cause of bunions is shoes that are too tight.  Unfortunately, it is estimated that nine of ten women wear shoes that are too small.  Wearing properly fitting shoes will help to eliminate your chances of getting a bunion.

Bunion (Hallux valgus) refers to a bump on the side of the great toe joint.  Bunions are partially due to the swollen bursa sac and or a bony anomaly on the joint where the first metatarsal bone and Hallux meet.  The largest part of the bump is a part of the head of the first metatarsal bone that is tilted sideways and sticks out at its top.

As stated bunions occur when the metatarsophalangeal joint, the base of your big toe, becomes larger and protrudes out. Initially, there may only be some tenderness along with redness of the skin. With every step, this joint is being used.  Continuing to wear improperly fitting shoes and not getting treatment for the bunion can cause worsening and even more foot problems.

Over time, the bunion may get bigger.  As the size increases, it becomes more painful to walk.  Wearing shoes may be painful. The angle of your big toe will move towards your second toe.  Eventually this pressure on the second toe may cause it to get out of alignment, thus further complicating your foot pain.  Another common issue of bunions is bursitis, which is inflammation of the bursa (a fluid-filled sac that lies between a tendon and bone).  Arthritis may also develop.

If a bunion continues to worsen, severe pain and an inability to walk may result.  In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the problem.

Bunion Treatment

At the first signs of a bunion, be sure to take good care of your feet.  Wear shoes with wide toes.  You may even want to have your feet professionally measured to ensure you’re getting a proper fit. If caught early, making this simple change can solve your problem and prevent the need for any other treatment.

While there are over-the-counter products to help with bunion pain, the best way to get relief is to seek the professional advice of a podiatrist.  Your podiatrist can often diagnose a bunion just by looking at it.  An x-ray of your foot can reveal any abnormal angling of the big toe as well as other issues such as arthritis.

If you’re having problems with bunions, or any other foot or ankle issue, Triad Foot Center can help.  Just call today to make an appointment at any of our three Triad locations.

Originally published in the “Ask the Expert” column of Asheboro Magazine.

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