Foot Surgery: New Approaches To An Old Problem Bunions

Have you had to buy larger shoes recently? Do you only have a few pairs of shoes that are comfortable? Have you been changing the way you walk or stand to avoid pain? Does it seem as though your big toe is angling back toward your foot or is a bump appearing where there was none before? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you may be the one out of every 6 Americans who suffer from bunions, or an enlargement and misalignment of bone at the big toe joint.  That’s 52.5 million people suffering unnecessarily!  People often assume that painful or ugly feet are a natural result of aging or neglect. In the past, inheriting your Mom’s bunions or your Dad’s flat feet may have been a problem you had to live with. These were and still are common misconceptions. As you can imagine, past treatments have ranged from absent to misdirected at best. Today, remarkable advances in medicine especially in the field of podiatry allow easy correction of such problems.

What Are Bunions? Bunions are joint deformities at the base of the big toe, in which a bony growth causes the big toe to turn inward toward the other toes. The misaligned joint bows outward causing swelling, pain and a multitude of other problems. Besides being aesthetically unappealing, well developed bunions can cause premature arthritis and eventual chronic discomfort due to the joint misalignment. Think of it as a “sliding door off its track.” The more the door is used while it’s “off track”, the more grinding takes place. The same is true with your joints. Obviously, not a good situation. Once the bunion is formed, it does not go away. Therefore, as a rule, bunion deformities should be recognized and treated early. Bunions have a hereditary tendency. They can also be aggravated by narrow shoes that compress the forefoot. Many sufferers are women who have worn high heels for years. Athletes involved in kicking sports such as soccer and karate may accelerate certain types of bunions.

An Ounce Of Prevention… The best advice would be, as soon as a deviation or bump is noticed, even if it is not bothersome, seek professional advice. Some options may be wearing shoes with a higher and wider toe box, padding or physical therapy. If caught early on, functional foot orthotics can help reduce the pressure that forms bunions. For some people these “temporary cures” work. If the bunion is far advanced, the only permanent cure is to have foot surgery or a bunionectomy.  Bunion surgeons agree that this procedure realigns the soft tissue and bone permitting normal movement once again. Often, the advances of same day surgery allow patients to walk with minimal discomfort shortly after surgery and back to their normal activities in no time. When  bunion surgery is indicated, the temporary downtime of a bunionectomy greatly outweighs the years of potential chronic, progressing discomfort. It is wise to keep an eye on your feet and keep these suggestions in mind when you, a family member or friend have symptoms suggestive of a bunion … an age old problem.

~ Dr. Jeffrey J Niccoli   Board-Certified, Alameda Family Podiatry Group    Click here or Call 510-521-3410  Serving  Bay Area patients from San Francisco, Oakland, Fremont, and Alameda

 

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