Like a number of health conditions, bunions develop slowly over the course of a few different stages. For most people, that means they experience a period of time where they notice the beginning of a bony prominence on the outside of their foot near the joint of their big toe, but it’s not causing any pain. If it’s not causing any discomfort, people oftentimes assume it means that they don’t need to proactively treat the bunion, but is that really the best strategy? In today’s blog, we explain what you should do if you notice that a bunion is forming but it’s not yet painful.
If you’ve noticed that you’re developing a bony prominence on the outside of your big toe joint, we first want to congratulate you on having a watchful eye. A lot of people simply don’t notice this subtle change, or they chalk it up to natural foot changes as they get older. This can cause problems because it means people will continue doing the same things that helped the bunion form in the first place, likely leading to a worsening of the big toe joint malformation. By ignoring a bunion, even when it’s asymptomatic, the question isn’t usually “if” the area will start to hurt, but “when” it will begin hurting.
Now, that’s not to say you need to have a corrective surgery performed as soon as you notice an asymptomatic bunion, but it should trigger some sort of response, even if it’s not currently painful. Because if your daily actions led to its formation in the first place, and you do nothing to change, the same forces are going to continue to be applied to your big toe joint, and it will continue to shift and get larger.
So what should you do if you notice the early stages of a bunion but it’s not yet painful? The first thing you’ll want to do is really evaluate your footwear choices. Tight or ill-fitting shoes are the number one risk factor for bunion development, so if you’re constantly forcing your foot into tight shoes, your joint will be under more stress and pressure that can cause it to shift. Try to transition to a more wider-fitting shoe or wear sandals/go barefoot (when applicable) to take pressure off the inside of your foot. Other helpful techniques include:
- Bunion pads
- Weight loss
- Toe exercises
- Avoiding long durations on your feet (don’t live a sedentary lifestyle, though!)
And finally, one important piece of advice for managing asymptomatic bunions is to continually monitor the prominence. Get in a daily or semi-weekly habit of checking the bunion to see if it gets more pronounced or if the shoes you’re wearing are starting to get a little more uncomfortable. If things appear to be getting more severe, set up an appointment with Dr. McDonald or an orthopedic specialist in your area.
Bunion Specialist in Enfield, CT
It’s very important to treat and monitor bunions, even at an early stage, because bunions are not a problem that can reverse on its own. You can help to prevent further shifting and alleviate symptoms, but you’re not going to be able to use conservative means to shift a big toe joint back to its original location. That means the longer you put off treatment, the more likely you’ll need to undergo corrective surgery, and conversely, the more proactive you are when a bunion is in its infancy, the less likely it is to cause long term problems. If you want help treating your bunion or a completely different foot condition, reach out to Dr. McDonald’s office today.