Bunions are no laughing matter
"If you rub my bunion, I'll give you a quarter."
While that classic line from the movie "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" drew a lot of laughs, to someone with bunions, it's hardly a laughing matter.
According to the website WebMD.com, "A bunion is a bony bump on the joint at the base of the big toe. As the bump gets bigger, it causes the big toe to turn in toward the second toe. The tissues around the joint may be swollen and tender."
Bunions are indicated by a variety of symptoms such as pain in the big toe, swelling or inflammation. Or there may be no symptoms at all.
According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS), bunions are caused "by an inherited faulty mechanical structure of the foot. It is not the bunion itself that is inherited, but certain foot types that make a person prone to developing a bunion."
While the presence of a bunion is usually apparent, a foot or ankle specialist may want to take an x-ray of it to determine the extent of the deformity. Only if the bunion interferes with normal or daily activities will surgery occur to remove the bunion and correct any changes to the bony structure of the foot.
Before surgery, however, a specialist may recommend treatment at home as that will work in most cases. On its website, the ACFAS recommends the following home treatments for bunions:
•"Change in shoe wear. Wearing the right kind of shoes is very important. Choose shoes that have a wide toe box, and forgo those with pointed toes or high heels which may aggravate the condition.
•"Padding. Pads placed over the area of the bunion can help minimize pain. These can be obtained from your surgeon or purchased at a drug store.
•"Activity modifications. Avoid activity that causes bunion pain, including standing for long periods of time.
•"Medications. Oral, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, may be recommended to reduce pain and inflammation.
•"Icing. Applying an ice pack several times a day helps reduce inflammation and pain.
•"Injection therapy. Although rarely used in bunion treatment, injections of corticosteroids may be useful in treating the inflamed bursa (a fluid-filled sac located around a joint) sometimes seen with bunions.
•Orthotic devices. In some cases, custom orthotic devices may be provided by the foot and ankle surgeon."
While there is no medical solution to cure or prevent bunions, WebMD recommends that bunion prevention starts with the choice of footwear.
"Wear roomy shoes that have wide and deep toe boxes (the area that surrounds the toes), low or flat heels, and good arch supports. Avoid tight, narrow, or high-heeled shoes that put pressure on the big toe joint," the website suggests.
Follow that advice and you may not have to resort to offering your children a quarter to find relief from the pain of a bunion.