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What Are Bunions?

Bunions — bony bumps where your big toe meets the rest of your foot — are actually overgrowths of the so-called metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint, caused by a misalignment. They are also called Hallux valgus. 

Bunions tend to show up in adulthood and grow gradually, usually as the result of wearing shoes that are too tight and narrow in people who are already genetically predisposed to bunions due to the shape of their feet. Because women's footwear is more likely to be, plainly put, bad for the feet, bunions are more common in women. Bunions can also, in some cases, be hereditary, in which case they're called adolescent bunions. 

Over time, bunions can become quite the pain in the foot, and give you complications like:

  • Bursitis, where the sac of fluid surrounding the MTP joint becomes inflamed
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic pain

Are There Any Home Remedies For Bunions?

If you think of rubbing herbs on your bunions when you hear the term "home remedy", then the answer is no. There are, however, steps you can take to prevent the further growth of your bunions and to ease your discomfort. They include:

  • Wearing appropriate, wide, shoes that do not put undue pressure on your bunions
  • Using a bunion shield to support your foot, hold your MTP joint in a more correct position, and separate your big toe from your other toes. 
  • Using orthotics, or custom-made shoe inserts that perform a similar function
  • Applying cooling packs to your bunions
  • When your bunions become inflamed and extra painful, you can use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs which are available over the counter, or ask your doctor about other medications. 

Surgical Removal Of Bunions

Bunions that continue to cause severe pain despite these non-invasive management options may be removed surgically. This is an option people with bunions that interfere with their daily activities should consider — starting with discussing bunion surgery with their primary care providers. 

During bunion surgery, your surgeon can remove the enlarged parts of your bone, lengthen or shorten relevant ligaments and tendons, and place screws, wires, or plates to hold your MTP joint in a correct position. 

After the surgery, your pain should be greatly relieved, and walking will be easier. Your foot will likely not become aesthetically "perfect", however — so this is not a surgery you should consider for purely cosmetic reasons. 

Bunion surgery is often performed under local anesthesia, but can also be done under general anesthesia or with a spinal block. The length of your hospital stay will depend on the kind of anesthesia used and on whether there were any complications during surgery. After bunion surgery, it may take up to five months for your foot to fully heal and recover, but most people say they only experience post-operative discomfort for up to a week. 

Note: Your bunions can come back even after bunion surgery! Discuss this possibility with your surgeon before you have the operation, so that you are fully informed about ways to reduce this risk. 

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