Have a look at your feet. Do all of your toes point outward? Or does your big toe lean toward your other toes? Off the side of the big toe, is there a bump around the joint? If your big toe leans toward the second toe, and if there is a bump on the joint which causes pain, there is a good chance you have a bunion.
Bunions are the manifestations of deformities in the foot. The big toe grows abnormally, angling away from the joint, growing toward the second toe. It is the incorrect toe alignment that actually produces the bump, a bony anomaly, on the side of the joint. As the toe leans further toward the second toe, a bump will typically enlarge and harden over time. Pain may also occur as a result of the big toe crowding the other toes. Bunions contain pieces of ligament and bone of the toe’s differently-growing structure.
Bunions are typically genetic. Note, however, that having a tilted toe will not produce a bunion every time; the predisposition is in the foot type, not in whether a bunion is certain. While there is some dispute over bunions being caused by constrictive footwear, it is generally agreed that wearing tight shoes will aggravate symptoms and cause the bunion to become more painful and worsen over time.
The most obvious signs of a bunion are a tilted big toe and the presence of a bump around the big toe’s joint. But there are other symptoms. Do your feet hurt when walking? The misaligned toes are forced to displace weight, and the joint under the bunion may become very painful to move. Blisters and irritated skin around a bunion are also common. Bunions are more common on those who spend long hours on their feet and/or wear shoes that are too small. After a while, other areas of the foot may begin to hurt as well, as other bones are forced to compensate for the big toe’s deformity. In extreme cases, arthritis of the joint beneath the bunion is possible, as well as a decreased range of motion of the affected foot.
Bunions are generally apparent on sight; from doing a quick online check you should be able to tell whether or not your foot pain is a result of a bunion. Arvada podiatrist Dr. Scales, may also take x-rays to survey the extent of the growth and formulate a treatment plan that best fits your bone structure.
There are a wide variety of treatment options for bunions, most of which consist of various products made to stabilize pressure around the foot. Specifically designed shoes or arch inserts equalize weight distribution and improve movement, encouraging the big toe to reach outward normally. Certain shoes are also wider in the toe area, preventing the sides of shoes from rubbing up against the bunion. Over-the-counter pain medication may also be prescribed if walking around is particularly painful. Surgery is also an option; Dr. Scales may remove the bunion and re-align the structure of your toes.
Many foot problems are frustrating and can impede movement, but few more than hallux rigidus, a condition which immobilizes the joint of the big toe, a small-sounding condition which makes it difficult to stand or maintain balance from day to day.
Hallux rigidus is a type of degenerative arthritis where the joint of the big toe becomes stiff and impossible to move. The first stages are called “hallux limitus”, where the toe has a limited range of motion but completely stiffens over time; hallux rigidus is the final stage of this condition, though luckily treatments are available at any point.
People with various foot deformities are most likely to wind up with hallux rigidus, as arthritis may already be present in the joints. Those with abnormal rolling of the ankles or irregularities in bone structure also tend to see a rise in the probability of hallux rigidus.
As a form of arthritis, a key symptom of hallux rigidus is a painful response to cold weather or damp conditions. Swelling and stiffness early on also gives you warning signs that the joint of your big toe has problems. Pain is present during movement, but as time progresses you may experience pain even when the foot is in a resting position. Please see a foot doctor if your joint begins to tighten up, as the feeling only worsens from the first few stages. Bone spurs, overgrowths of aggravated bones, may develop near the inflicted joint and make it even more difficult to walk.
The signature of hallux rigidus is limited range of motion, and the main thing a podiatrist should examine when looking at your toe. You may be asked to stand and walk barefoot so that Dr. Scales can watch the movement of the foot. X-rays may be taken to determine the extent of the arthritis and see if there are any bone spurs present, indicative of a long-existing condition.
Prescribed anti-inflammatory medication may help reduce the swelling and amount of pain you feel in your toe. Wearing custom shoes, or shoes with a wider toe box may help alleviate pressure on the joint. Other walking aids may be recommended by your doctor to improve the functionality of your foot. Injection or physical therapy are other options. Injection therapy consists of a corticosteroid concoction being injected on site to reduce inflammation and pain. Physical therapy consisting of ultrasound or various exercises may reduce pain and help you regain balance and perform simple tasks.
When all else fails, surgery is a last option. Dr. Scales will work with your specific case and modify the joint or bone to regain flexibility or alleviate pain. There are many different types of surgical procedures, and Arvada podiatrist, Dr. James Scales is trained to help you every step of the way. Contact Foot Health Center of Colorado’s Arvada Colorado podiatry office today or make an appointment online.