Bunions and ingrown toenails are a pain, literally! According to the United States National Library of Medicine, about one in three adults (over 3 million people) in the United States is challenged by a bunion. Women in particular face the potential for a bunion to develop because of foot structure, genetic issues, and footwear choices (it’s enough to make one rethink wearing those new heels in your closet). What exactly is a bunion?
According to the Mayo Clinic, a bunion is a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe. It occurs when some of the bones in the front part of your foot move out of place. This causes the tip of your big toe to get pulled toward the smaller toes and forces the joint at the base of your big toe to stick out. The skin over the bunion might be red and sore.
So, how do you know that you have a bunion? Below are some of the top symptoms.
• An outward bulge or bump at the base of the big toe
• Swelling and redness or sore on the skin around the big toe joint
• Pain near the swollen area and the big toe joint
• Foot Pain
• Corns or calluses at the site where the first and second toes overlap
• Smaller bunions (bunionettes) can develop on the joint of your little toe.
If you have noticed any of these symptoms, don’t get discouraged, there is hope. Below are some standard treatment options suggested by the Mayo Clinic:
• Anti-inflammatory drugs: Anti-inflammatory medicines are used to control pain.
• Changing shoes. Wear roomy, comfortable shoes that provide plenty of space for your toes.
• Padding. Over-the-counter, nonmedicated bunion pads or cushions may be helpful. They can act as a buffer between your foot and your shoe
and ease your pain.
• Medications. Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve) can help you control the pain of a
bunion. Cortisone injections also might help.
• Shoe inserts. Padded shoe inserts can help distribute pressure evenly when you move your feet, reducing your symptoms and preventing your
bunion from getting worse. Over-the-counter supports can provide relief for some people; others require prescription orthotic devices.
• Applying ice. Icing your bunion after you’ve been on your feet too long or if it becomes inflamed can help relieve soreness and swelling. If you
have reduced feeling or circulation problems with your feet, check with your doctor first before applying ice.
Surgery is also an option for bunion treatment which might involve:
• Removing the swollen tissue from around your big toe joint.
• Straightening your big toe by removing part of the bone.
• Realigning one or more bones in the forefoot to a more normal position to correct the abnormal angle in your big toe joint.
• Joining the bones of your affected joint permanently.
CenExel JBR, a Center of Excellence, works with patients who are managing challenging conditions, such as ingrown toenails and bunions. As a medical researcher in pain management, I have worked with many individuals that have participated in a bunion surgery at our surgical center in SLC, UT, and over the years I have developed a list of preventative treatments that I recommend to patients after surgery to help them keep their feet and toes happy and healthy.
Here are my top tips:
• Visually inspect feet daily for cuts, sores, cracks, dryness and any areas of redness.
• When cleaning be sure to dry between the toes to avoid skin breakdown.
• Moisturize your feet daily with lotion. Don’t put moisturizer between your toes.
• Avoid wearing tight-fitting shoes. Your shoes shouldn’t hurt your feet.
• Each foot has 26 bones, 30 joints and more than 100 muscles. The most powerful tendon in the Human body is the Achilles tendon which
attaches to the back of the heel. This tendon can put over 1 million pounds of pressure on the foot each day. Proper stretching and support are
needed to help these bones, tendons, and joints stay healthy.
• Wear shoes with proper arch support.
• When possible, rotate your shoes daily.
• Proper 40 second calf stretches help relieve the pressure of the Achilles tendon on the foot.
• Trim your toenails straight across with a nail clipper. Then use an emery board or nail file to smooth the corners, which will help prevent
Healthy feet are happy feet! Click the link below to learn more about the research work we support for bunions and ingrown toenails at CenExel JBR. cenexel.com/jbr
Dr. Ellsworth is a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, and is a Podiatric Surgeon at CenExel JBR in SLC, Utah.