bunions

Ultimate Guide To Bunions, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

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Are you experiencing slight pain or soreness on the side of your big toe? Perhaps you want to know if it’ll go away on its own or it’s something to look into. While pain and soreness can be due to various causes, if it’s accompanied by a small bump and that too exactly at the side of the big toe, it’s likely to be a bunion.

Today, we’ll be covering everything you need to know about bunions, their causes, and ways to treat them. There are some commercially available products that could help to treat bunions and we’ll be reviewing a few of those as well. 

By the end of this post, you’ll have adequate information on dealing with bunions and knowing when it’s best to seek medical care.

So, let’s get started. 

What Are Bunions? – Bunion Foot Pain Explained

Some of you may be familiar with bunions but it could be a new term for many others. The first thing we’d like to clarify is that bunions can be painful but you don’t need to be worried. Most bunions can be treated with little medical intervention or simply by making some lifestyle changes. With that out of the way, we’ll start by explaining what a bunion is.

A bunion is a bump or protrusion which occurs due to the misalignment of the joint at the base of the big toe. That is why bunions are always located to the side of the big toe which makes them easy to identify. They are painful but the degree of pain will vary between individuals. In medical terms, they are also called hallux valgus.

A bunion occurs when the joint at the front part of the foot is misaligned. Often, such misalignment causes the big toe to push towards the second toe. Eventually, the big toe joint starts protruding sideways. So bunions develop slowly over a period of time and you may not be able to detect them at early stages.

Symptoms of Bunions

More often than not, the bump itself starts to be visible at later stages. But apart from the protrusion of the joint bone, bunions also display some other symptoms such as:

  • Pain and swelling, soreness or redness, in the area around the big toe joint.
  • As bunions cause the first two toes to push against each other, it leads to the formation of calluses between the two toes. So calluses between the first two toes also serve as a symptom of bunions.
  • Inability to move the big toe flexibly; experiencing pain when trying to move the big toe.

It is important to know the smaller bunions can also occur at the base joint of the little toe. They are not as common but will display the same symptoms but towards the side of the little toe instead. These smaller bunions are also referred to as bunionettes.

What Causes Bunions? Different Factors That Lead To Growth And Development Of Bunions

We still don’t know what exactly causes bunions. However, there are some factors that, as per medical experts, are more likely to cause the formation of a bunion. Let’s take a look at what those factors are.

Footwear

Wearing tight, narrow, or pointed shoes is one of the probable causes of bunion formation. Shoes that are pointed towards the top will force your toes to converge such that the big toe is pushed toward the next toe. 

high heels

Wearing such shoes over a long period will cause the joint at the big toe to bulge outwards. But while this theory is very likely and perhaps true to quite an extent, there is still some debate in the medical community as to whether narrow shoes are the actual cause of bunions or do they only contribute to the growth of existing bunions.

Other Medical Conditions

People suffering from inflammatory conditions like arthritis or deformation-causing diseases like polio are more likely to develop bunions.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that causes pain and some amount of damage to the joints. Considering that bunions also affect the joints, it’s understandable how patients with rheumatoid arthritis are prone to the formation of bunions.

Similarly, many conditions lead to leg deformities, polio being a common example. When these conditions cause deformities in the foot region, it can facilitate the growth of bunions. It’s not necessary that everyone with these conditions will develop bunions.

Heredity

Some people are born with leg deformities or a certain structure of the foot that is likely to develop bunions. For example, some people naturally have their big toe pressing on the second toe. Since their big toes are inclined inwards since birth, it’s more likely that the joint may have deformed over time. So, in many cases, the cause of a bunion is attributed to heredity factors or traits that individuals inherited by birth.

bunion hereditary

Growth and Severity of Bunions

Bunions are an orthopedic condition that grow over time, so it is important to understand how they develop. Along with that, you should also know how severe they can get so that you can be prepared for worst-case scenarios as well.

foot pain

Early symptoms start with slight pain or discomfort around the big toe. Over time, the joint begins to misalign. But the misalignment may not always be visible from outside. In such cases, calluses between the first and second toe are an important symptom to look out for. It’s important to detect bunion growth while the bump is small, as it will improve the efficiency of treatment.

If bunions are not treated on time and they grow in size, they can cause quite a lot of problems. Fully grown bunions can cause severe pain and significantly restrict the movement of the big toe.

The pain and stiffness can make an individual incapable of walking until the condition is treated. It can cause also leave the foot extremely deformed. That is why the symptoms and growth of bunions should never be ignored but should be treated as early as possible. 

How To Slow Bunion Growth – Non-Surgical Options For Relief

There are some methods of treating bunions without resorting to surgery. Bunions can be treated, or at least managed, through non-surgical methods such as using bunion guards or bunion correctors. 

Bunion guards are more effective in protecting the affected area and preventing the bump from growing. On the other hand, bunion correctors are used to restoring the natural alignment of the toe over time. The good thing is that both these items are easily available in the market.

We do recommend to have your condition diagnosed by a doctor before you buy these products. In most cases, the doctors themselves will suggest you use a guard or corrector. Also, they will even explain to you what option will be most appropriate for your condition. 

podiatrist

Once you have decided which option you should go for, you can skip browsing through countless options online and straightaway order one of these products which we have carefully reviewed and handpicked for our readers.

Bunion Guards

Bunion guards wrap around the thumb and cover the area where the bump is formed. They are meant to be used while wearing shoes, to protect the bunion from pressure. So, they are mostly used for pain relief, and to prevent the bunion from further damage. 

They do help to slow down the growth of bunions to some extent. If you have a bunion that hasn’t grown too big, a bunion guard will help you to manage the pain and allow you to wear shoes without discomfort. But it’ll not provide a permanent solution to the problem.

Bunin guards could be the right fit for you if you can relate to the following cases:

  • If you have bunions that are detected early and are small in size
  • If you want to manage the pain and other symptoms while still being able to do your daily activities
  • If you want to prevent and slow down further growth of the bunion

Here’re our picks for quality bunion guards that are worth checking out:

Dr. Frederick’s Original Bunion Sleeves

Dr. Frederick’s Bunion Guards are designed for enhancing comfort. The guards are elastic and breathable with silica gel pads attached towards the side. The material can easily stretch to fit different foot sizes and the gel pads can easily be aligned to cover the exact area where the bunion is. Still, it does come in two basic size variations – small, and large.

As long as the bunion hasn’t grown too big, these guards can protect them efficiently. You’ll notice a lot of relief when you wear these inside shoes and it can manage the pain well enough so that you can even jog around or exercise comfortably with these guards on.

They are effective at what they are meant to do and that is to alleviate pain and provide comfort.

To make things better, the manufacturers are even backing up their products with confidence. They are offering a full refund if the product does not fit, and a replacement or money-back offer if the product does not produce the intended results.

ZenToes Bunion Guards Gel Shields 4 Pack Cushions and Protects

ZenToes Bunion Guards are silica gel pads that are designed to fit into your big toe and cover the area where bunion forms. The gel pads are durable but elastic too, so they will fit into the shape of your toes. That is why these guards are available in a single size that fits for most foot sizes. The silica gel is very soft and comfortable so it serves well as a protection for the bunion.

The pads are washable and reusable, so they will last for a long time. These pads will provide even more comfort if you wear socks on top to keep them in place.

Both these products are equally useful for people with different requirements. If you have painful bunions and what extra comfort and relief, Dr. Frederick’s Bunion Guards are the better choice. But if you’re bunion is mild and you prefer a simple product that gets the job done for a few bucks less.

Bunion Correctors

If you seek to slowly treat the bunion and realign your toe to the correct position, then a bunion corrector is what you need. 

Bunion correctors can come in different shapes and design so deciding which one to purchase can be confusing. Bunion correctors are designed for two reasons – to gradually stretch the big toe back to its natural alignment, and to separate the big toe and second toe from rubbing against each other. As an added benefit, they also protect the bunions from pressure and friction.

Now different manufacturers use different designs to make bunion correctors. Some bunion correctors can be strapped around the leg and the big toe and they’ll have a splint at the side of the toe which keeps it in a straight position. Then there are those that you can place in between your first two toes to separate them. 

So, when you browse for bunion correctors online, you might dread the problem of choosing one item from among hundreds of products, each with different designs, shapes, and prices.

Why don’t you skip the hassle and simply go for one of these products we have picked for you?

Caretras Bunion Corrector, Orthopedic Bunion Splint

We have already mentioned how some bunion correctors use a splint to keep the big toe in the correct position. With this product, you can clearly see how it works. 

There are three straps in total – the central strap is large and it’s supposed to go around your foot. Towards the back, there’s another strap that goes around the back of the ankle. And at the front, there’s a small strap that holds the toe. The splint lies at the side of the toe, so once you wrap this item around your feet, the strap and splint will fix your big toe in a straight position.

Bunion correctors are effective but only if they are used correctly. It’s always best to consult a doctor or medical expert on the best way to use bunion correctors.

But this product also comes with its own set of instructions which mentions that it’s best to start using them 20 minutes per day. Then, you can slowly adapt to wearing them longer. Over time, you can wear them for two to three hours and even during walking.

The material is soft and breathable so you can wear them for long hours. This bunion corrector is adjustable so it comes in only one size which is supposed to fit most people. Depending on your feet size, you may even be able to wear them inside shoes but it’s not the same for every person. 

If you’re recovering from bunion surgery or trying to avoid bunion surgery, for both cases these bunion correctors can prove to be useful.

 Bunion Corrector & Bunion Relief Protector Sleeves Kit

This bunion corrector kit is a well-designed product that gives you more options to manage and treat your bunions. The kit contains 4 accessories – a pair of bunion guards, a pair of toe separator gel, a pair of spacers, and one stretching toe strap.

The bunion guards are soft and equipped with gel pads, so they’re good for reducing pain. The toe separator gel fits on the big toe and prevents it from bending towards the second toe. The spacer is to be worn on the second toe and it will help to maintain natural spacing between the first and second toe.

The stretchable strap fits on the big toe of both feet and they are designed for exercising the big toes. It will help to strengthen the muscles around the big toe so that they can hold the joint firmly in its natural position.

So, you have more than one option to treat your bunions within a single product. For most people, it should be possible to wear all these accessories inside shoes. It would have been a lot better if they also had a splint included in the kit but that can be overlooked.

Shoes to Relieve Bunion Pain

There may be some debate on whether ill-fitting shoes can cause bunions or not, but there’s no doubt that such shoes can worsen a bunion. So if you have a bunion, be it large or small, you will have to change your footwear. 

shoes and bunions

What type or size of shoes you require will depend on how large or severe the bunion is. But the size and fit of shoes certainly affect both the growth and treatment of bunions.

Impact of Shoes On Bunions

Wearing the right type and size of shoes is also an important part of treating bunions. First, there’s no denying then if the bump has grown in size then you’ll need to wear a bigger or wider shoe.

Your old shoes might be useless unless the bump shrinks in size. If the bunion is severe and has already caused significant deformation, custom-made shoes must be used.

But for the most part, shoes that are wide with soft soles and interiors will serve well as bunion relief shoes. The idea is to ensure that there’s enough toe space inside the shoes, and they are comfortable to wear and walk. And with spacious shoes, you can even wear bunion guards or correctors inside comfortably.

Once again, we have gone through hundreds of products and selected some excellent choices for our readers. Our list includes three men’s and three women’s shoes that will work great as a bunion relief shoes. So here’s our review of some of the best bunion relief shoes:

Bunion Relief Shoes for Men

Skechers Men’s Expected Avillo Relaxed-Fit Slip-On Loafer

These Skechers loafers are truly designed for comfort. They are made of pure canvas with a rubber sole and cushioned foam as footbeds. So, they feel comfy on your feet from every angle. 

The reason why we have picked these shoes for bunion relief is that they have extra width at the toe region. So, not only do they reduce the pressure on the affected area, but they will also give you enough space to wear guards and correctors inside the shoes.

There are other noteworthy features of this product. The slip-on style of this shoe is convenient and removes the hassle of shoe-laces. It’s even better for people with bunions as they can slip in and out of the shoes easily. 

There are 16 different sizes available, ranging from 6.5 to 16, and even within these sizes, you can choose from normal, wide, and extra-wide designs. These shoes are available in nine color variations so there’s no shortage of options in terms of size, fit, and look.

Overall, these loafers are quite stylish as well so you don’t have to compromise with fashion for the sake of comfort. You can match them up with different types of clothing, both formal and casual, whether you are out for work or recreation. 

New Balance Men’s MW877 Walking Shoe

The New Balance shoes are made of suede which means they are very durable. There is mesh fabric at certain parts which makes the shoes airy and breathable.

But when you are looking for bunion relief shoes, comfort is what matters most. That is why these shoes are equipped with rubber soles, cushioned midsole, and padded collars so that they are soft and easy on the feet in every way.

These shoes are available in sizes ranging from 7 to 15, also available in wide and extra-wide designs for each size. They are laced shoes unlike the earlier model, so you won’t have the convenience of slip-on design. 

On the brighter side, the laces will allow you to adjust the tightness and fit of the shoes as per your comfort. The soles are excellent in absorbing pressure and you will notice it when you walk in these shoes a few times.

Due to their athletic design, the New Balance shoes are better used for walks, jogs, and exercising. They have a sporty look that is not meant for formal outfits. So if you love physical activity and exercise but your bunions are stopping you, these shoes can be your saving grace! 

Dockers Men’s Gordon Leather Oxford Dress Shoe

Loafers, sports shoes, and sneakers are often designed for flexibility and comfort. That is why the double as bunion relief shoes too. But if you want a formal design for a bunion relief shoe, it can be difficult to find the right product.

Most formal shoes are hard and have a fixed, rigid shape. These are not qualities you would prefer in a shoe meant to relieve the pain and discomfort of bunions.

But despite the odds, we have selected a suitable product that is perfect for formal and office use while serving as bunion relief shoes as well. Docker’s Gordon leather shoes offer a unique combination of minimalist style and extra comfort.

The upper layer of the shoe is made of full-grain leather and the base is made of durable and super comfy rubber soles. They are available in sizes 7 to 17 with wide design models for each size.

The look and design may have you thinking at first glance that they may be uncomfortable for people with bunions. But not only are these shoes suitable for bunion relief, but they are also accepted by the American Podiatric Medical Association as shoes that promote foot health and functioning. 

Bunion Relief Shoes for Women

Skechers Women’s Go Walk Joy Walking Shoe

These Skechers women shoes are designed for total comfort and you can feel it just by looking at them. They sport a simple mesh design throughout the upper area which is made of textile, and a thick yet flexible synthetic sole at the bottom.

The shoes are lightweight and airy and just like the men’s loafers by Skechers, these are also slip-on style shoes without any laces.

These soles are optimally designed for walking and running as they have layered cushions within the sole. It absorbs a lot of pressure so you will hardly feel any pain while walking with these on.

The toe region is wide enough to accommodate bunion guards or correctors inside. With 17 color variations, you can carefully pick the design of your choice. The look is simple and sporty so you can wear these shoes with most types of casual outfits.

These shoes are useful for bunion relief and they will also serve as regular workout footwear.

Easy Spirit Women’s Traveltime Mule

Easy Spirit women’s shoes are also suede-made with mesh patterns applied in selected areas. They are breathable and light which makes them a good choice for people with bunions.

Rubber soles are there to provide more comfort however they may not be durable enough for athletic use. You can wear them for walks or even light jogging but better not to wear them during workouts.

In terms of style and design, these shoes have an edge over other products. There are 100+ design and color variations that you can choose from. From quirky and colorful designs to formal pure-black designs, there are so many options that it feels like a hundred different items compiled together. Sizes are available from 5 to 12, with wide and even extra-wide variations for some sizes. 

The highlight of Easy Spirit women’s shoes and the reason why we have included them in this list is mainly because of the variety of styles. It gives you the freedom to select the appropriate bunion relief shoes based on what type of outfit or getup you wish to use them for. If fashion is a decisive factor for you, then these shoes are your best option.

ASICS Women’s Gel-Venture 6 Running-Shoes

Our first pick for women’s bunion relief shoes focused on extra comfort and the second pick offered style variations. So to include variety, we have chosen the third pick for athletic purposes.

These shoes are most suited for fitness enthusiasts who wish to continue physical activities while still managing and treating their bunion.

excess exercise foot pain

These synthetic built shoes are flexible yet durable, and the rubber soles are equipped with special gel cushioning systems that can absorb shocks and resist strong impacts. These ASICS are perfect for runners and gym-goers. They have a sporty design and offer about 30 color and style variations. Size ranges from 5 to 14 with both normal and wide designs.

The sock liner in these shoes is removable so that you can make space for bunion guards or correctors. So it shows that the manufacturers have designed it to be used by people with bunions and other orthotic users. 

Surgical Relief For Bunions: Bunionectomy

If the bunion becomes severe, it can still be treated through a surgical procedure which we call Bunionectomy. The process involves removing the enlarged part of the joint which creates the bump and performing additional bone realignment procedures in case any deformities have occurred.

The actual approach and steps involved in the surgery can vary depending upon individual cases. But the general steps include applying anesthetics, making an incision at the affected area, removing the joint tissue, and performing osteotomy or bone-repositioning surgery if required. 

The repositioning surgery may sometimes require the use of surgical implants such as wires and screws to align the bone correctly. There are different techniques of bunion surgery that are named after the experts that invented them.

bunion surgery

Bunion surgery is not particularly painful – perhaps a better way to phrase it is that it’s as painful as any other normal surgery. But it can throb a lot especially is your foot is below the heart level and blood is pumping to it. The throbbing can be managed by keeping the foot elevated and staying in bed rest.

After the surgery, patients are usually discharged after the anesthesia has worn off which can take a few hours. But in some cases, the patient may have to spend a few more days in the hospital to tend to the surgery wounds. Once discharged, the patient will still need adequate rest and regular pain medications until the wounds are fully healed.

bunion surgery

Even after a successful bunionectomy, bunions can sometimes grow back. So, it’s wise to have it monitored regularly after the surgery. In the unfortunate event that the bunion does grow back, early detection can still help you to prevent it from growing further.

We hope that the information in this guide and the products we reviewed will be useful for our readers who are affected by bunions.

Once again, we remind all our readers to visit a medical professional before beginning any form of treatment. And while it is possible to perform most physical activities while managing bunions, it’s best to consult your doctor first if you can exercise when affected by bunions.

relief from bunions
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