One could say summer is the best time for surgery since open-toed shoes, sandals and flip-flops are easier to squeeze a swollen foot into than a heavy winter boot.But, that’s not true if you enjoy swimming, biking or water skiing.

The best time to have bunion surgery is when it fits your lifestyle.

Of course, it is better to avoid bunion surgery altogether.

What is a bunion?

A bunion is a bony growth that occurs on the inside of the foot beneath the big toe. Bunions develop when the metatarsal bone in the foot shifts and points outward while the phalanx bone in the big toe points inward toward the smaller toes. When this happens, it misaligns the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint and creates hallux valgus deformity – a bunion.

Bunions develop for many reasons.
Bunions are a common foot condition. Some people have genetically predisposed metatarsophalangeal joint abnormalities. Others may have experienced an injury that weakens the structure of the bones and joints in their foot. There is another group of people who contribute to the development of bunions by wearing shoes that are too tight or too high.

In this last case, high heels are the most obvious offender. The structure of a high-heeled shoe places the full weight of the body on the toes and the balls of the feet. When this pressure combines with the narrow toe box common in heels, it forces the big toe toward the outside of the foot.

High heels may be one reason women are ten times more likely to suffer from bunions than men.

If you wear high heels often, you may notice the beginnings of a telltale bunion bump. Left untreated, the bunion will grow larger and limit your ability to bend or straighten your toe.

In severe cases, the bunions cause pain and loss of movement.

What are the symptoms of a bunion?

As your body reacts to the pressure of uneven weight distribution on your feet, you may notice the following symptoms at the base of your toe before you notice a bunion.

  • Your skin is red and tender to touch.
  • You may experience the painful swelling.
  • You notice your big toe is starting to move closer to your second toe.
  • The bottom of your foot may become callused, swollen or painful.
  • It may hurt to wear shoes.

Left untreated, your bunion may grow.

As it does, you may experience more severe symptoms.

  • Your big toe crowds your second toe, moving it out of its natural position.
  • Your foot looks deformed.
  • You experience chronic pain.
  • You have difficulty walking.

There are several home treatments you can try to help relieve bunion pain.

Many drug stores sell bunion pads. These can protect your feet from rubbing and pressure inside your shoe. You can also use ice therapy and ibuprofen to relieve pain. While these may help reduce the pain, they do not solve the problem. You may want to consider visiting an orthopaedic specialist for treatment.

How are bunions treated?

Like other conditions, treating bunions early is the best course of action.

Bunions are caused by the misalignment of the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint. In order to treat the problem, the bones must be repositioned to work properly with the rest the foot. When caught early, the condition may be addressed without surgery.

Change your shoes. If a bunion starts to develop, take a look at your shoes. Consider swapping your high heels or pointed-toe shoes for supportive shoes with flat heels. Wearing shoes with a wide toe box will help the bones in your feet align naturally.

Splints. An orthopaedic specialist or podiatrist may recommend that you wear splints at night. Like braces for your teeth, splints may help your toe return to its proper position.

Injection Therapy. Depending on your condition, your orthopaedic specialist may recommend injection therapy to relieve your foot pain.

Surgery. If your bunion is severe and limits your ability to walk, your orthopaedic provider may recommend surgery. Bunion surgery is often an outpatient procedure. You will have the surgery and go home the same day.

No two bunions are the same.
If you have a bunion, you may want to talk to a Bone & Joint podiatrist or a foot and ankle specialist. He or she will be able to examine your foot, evaluate your foot structure and determine the likely cause of your bunion. After a thorough examination, your orthopaedic expert will provide you with the best treatment to relieve your pain and get you back on your feet.