A bunion is a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe. It forms when your big toe pushes against your next toe, forcing the joint of your big toe to get bigger and stick out. The skin over the bunion might be red and sore. Bunions can also develop as a result of an inherited structural defect, stress on your foot or a medical condition, such as arthritis.
Dr Moses Semweya, a general practitioner at Le Memorial Hospital in Kigo, notes that although shoes are not the primary cause of bunions, shoes that push toes against each other or squeeze toes together can cause bunions to develop. He observes that most likely, the cause for bunions is genetics.
“Some foot types are more prone to bunions than others and since foot type is hereditary, then some people are more susceptible to bunions than others. If someone has such joints and tendon they will worsen the problem if they wear high heels often,” Dr Semweya explains.
According to Podiatrists, when one wears high heeled shoes, pressure from your body weight is put on the feet and if that pressure is on the big toes, bones can move resulting in the formation of bunions.
Bunions can also form as a result of an injury to the feet especially if it occurs close to the big toe. Another cause according to Dr Semweya is spending a lot of time putting pressure on one’s feet; for instance dancers, models or sports personnel.
Geoffrey Ochwo, a pedicurist at The Studio Salon in Kamwokya, says he has discovered that most clients are not aware that the formation on their feet is called a bunion and that it can be prevented or treated.
“Many clients come to me saying they are feeling pain in their feet. Usually they blame high heels or walking long distances. Usually I advise them to see a specialist if the problem is severe,” Ochwo explains. He advises that when one has pain in their feet, they should endeavor to see a specialist because this mild pain if left untreated usually gets worse over time. “Even if the bunion is not causing you pain, it is very important to take action before it gets worse. Over time, bunions can become larger and more painful. They can also start making it very difficult to find shoes that fit correctly,” Ochwo advises.
In the meantime, as the adage goes, prevention is better than cure. Podiatrists recommend that people who are genetically prone to the formation of bunions (flat feet or feet that roll inward more than normal), should steer clear of narrow, pointy toes and high heeled shoes. Look for shoes that are roomy enough to allow you to wiggle your toes and are not more than one inch high.
In emergency situations, Dr Semweya advises managing the pain on your way to see a specialist. To take the pain off, he advises applying ice wrapped in a thin cloth on the affected area for 20 minutes.
“Ice compresses blood vessels, which numbs pain and relieves swelling. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help control the pain of a bunion,” Dr Semweya.
In severe cases surgery to align the toes is advised. However, it is important to note that there are a variety of treatment options such as taping and padding the bunions to release stress on the toe joint and reduce pain. The specialist can help you choose a method that fits your needs whether surgery or otherwise. The type of surgery will depend on the level of the deformity; mild, moderate, or severe.
Keep bunions at bay
• Stop wearing pointy toe heels, boots and tight shoes on a daily basis.
• Wear tight narrow shoes only when absolutely required. Carry the heels with you; wear them right before entering the party. And take them off the minute you finish.
• If the small growth at the base of your toe hurts slightly, visit a foot specialist immediately. The sooner it is treated, the better.
• In mild cases, things can get better with the use of a foot splint or toe spacers.