Bunions Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

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Bunions can be a painful and sometimes debilitating foot injury for runners. Here's how to prevent and treat them.

Symptoms of Bunions:

Bunions are an enlargement of the big toe joint. Under too much pressure, this joint can swell, causing the bone to stick out on the side of the foot. Your big toe may turn toward your second toe. You may also have pain in your big toe, red or irritated skin over the bunion, and swelling at the base of the big toe.

Although they're not as common, you might also get a bunion on your little toe. In that case, it's called a bunionette or tailor's bunion. The little toe bends inward, and the joint swells or enlarges.

Causes of Bunions:

Bunions are usually caused by wearing shoes (running or non-running) that are too tight or put too much pressure on the big toe (such as high-heeled shoes). Runners who overpronate (their feet roll inward) are more at risk for bunions because they put a lot of stress on their big toe when pushing-off. Some people may be more likely to get bunions because the shape of their foot puts too much pressure on their big toe.

Treatment of Bunions:

Surgery is the only way to get rid of a bunion completely, but you can ease the discomfort without going under the knife. Make sure your shoes are not too tight. Next, try to take pressure off the bunion with bunion pads (sold at most drugstores).

Finally, an arch support (sold at most drug stores and running stores) may also help relieve some of the pressure. If you're still feeling pain and discomfort, schedule an appointment with a podiatrist. You may need to get custom-made  orthotics to get rid of the problem.

Prevention of Bunions:

Make sure you're not wearing shoes that are not long enough or too narrow.

Women should also avoid wearing high heels or any shoes that put pressure on the big toe joint. Because your feet swell when you run, you should wear running shoes that are at least one half to a full size bigger than your regular street size. You should have plenty of room in the toebox. If your big toe is pushed up to the front of your shoe or you can't wiggle your toes, your running shoes are too tight.  Another easy way to check the fit is to remove the shoe's insert and stand on it. If any part of your toes are hanging over the end of the insert, your running shoes are too small. 

"Bunions - Topic Overview", webmd.com accessed 10/15

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