If you suffer from a bunion, you know how painful and restrictive one can be. Bunions can make everyday activities, such as walking and running, hard to manage, and they may prevent your shoes from fitting properly. So it’s important to learn how to prevent bunions and what treatments are available.

A bunion is a bony growth and deformity that forms at the joint of your big toe. It usually forms when the big toe pushes against your other toes, forcing the joint in the opposite direction. Eventually, the bunion can enlarge your joint, which results in pain.

What causes a bunion? The most common cause is usually inheritance from your parents, but wearing high-heeled shoes or shoes that are too tight will help speed up the formation. Other causes include foot injuries and congenital foot defects. Bunions may also be associated with various forms of arthritis, since this disease may lead you to walk in a way that distributes weight unevenly on your feet.

In most cases, a doctor can diagnose a bunion just by examining your feet. Your physician will likely suggest one or more of these treatments:

  • Different shoes: You may find pain relief just by changing the kinds of shoes you wear. Roomy comfortable shoes will give your toes more space.
  • Medication: In many cases, over-the-counter medications will help alleviate the discomfort you are feeling. You may also benefit from cortisone shots.
  • Padding: Your achy toe may appreciate padded shoe inserts that reduce the impact on the joint.
  • Surgery: If conservative strategies don’t help, in some more severe cases, surgery may be the best option. A bunionectomy will remove the swollen bump and straighten out your big toe. Just remember that you may need a few weeks to fully recover from this procedure. And a bunion can recur if you don’t wear the proper shoes after the surgery.

To prevent bunions from forming, be sure to treat your feet right. Choose shoes that fit well and offer support. And if you suffer from arthritis, talk to your doctor about ways to maintain your weight distribution and keep your feet comfortable.

“Suffering from pain and ill-fitting shoes is not necessary,” explains Dr. Steven G. Lund, a doctor of podiatric medicine, who is associated with North Hills Hospital. “If you are not happy with your foot, you need to get x-rays and discuss the options with your podiatrist.”

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