If you have bunions, you stand in good company. Amal Clooney, Victoria Beckham and Jennifer Lopez are among those with famous feet plagued by big-time bunions, according to a recent photo spread in the London Daily Mail. That’s not surprising, given the prevalence of this deformity in which the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint at the base of the big toe turns outward, as the toe itself rotates inward.
Many bunion sufferers, most of whom are women, don’t have symptoms. But that can change. And when it does, bunions can cause serious problems. They can prevent the foot from functioning properly, damage other toes, and lead to corns, calluses, and ingrown toenails.
That being the case, it’s important that bunions be examined by an experienced podiatrist before these issues occur. It’s time to make an appointment as soon as your bunions:
• First become painful. Pain and discomfort are usually the reasons patients visit our office for their bunions. Bunion pain is generally the result of direct shoe pressure on the affected area. Pain in the joint, however, likely indicates arthritic degeneration. Pain at the ball of the foot typically signals altered foot mechanics, which can lead to significant problems if not treated.
• Start to interference with activity. If impact activities, such as running or basketball, are challenging, don’t wait any longer to have your bunions checked. Otherwise, you may eventually have issues with walking, as well.
• Make it difficult to find shoes that fit. Often the inability to find closed-toed shoes that fit properly is what prompts those with bunions to seek podiatric care at our practice. Most shoes don't accommodate the outward protrusion of bunions and as a result, place pressure on the misaligned joint. Over time this causes the bursa (the fluid-filled sac that surrounds the joint) to become inflamed, resulting in pain and stiffness.
• Cause your toes to overlap. In some cases, bunions cause an individual’s second toe to overlap the big toe. This is a clear sign that your bunions require professional intervention. Even if the overlap isn’t painful, it should be checked by a podiatrist. Often the overlap has developed gradually and patients have become accustomed to the pain, without realizing it. Still, this improper alignment can lead to metatarsal stress fractures.
• Their appearance is bothersome. As podiatrists, our main concern is keeping your feet pain-free and functioning properly. Still, we recognize that the abnormal appearance of bunions can displease many patients. If that’s the case, we are here to help.