Bunions range in severity from a mild nuisance to a very painful condition. Read on to learn the anatomy of bunions and how best to care for them. Dr. Steven Vetter and Dr. Jugal Dharia at the Oakton Foot and Ankle Center often treat bunions in Fairfax, VA.
What is a bunion?
Bunions are bony protrusions that develop on the inner side of your foot where your big toe joins the rest of your foot. As a bunion progresses, it may cause your big toe to be misaligned and point inward, sometimes resting on top of the next toe.
What causes bunions?
Research on the etiology of bunions is inconclusive, therefore a definitive cause of them is not known. Rubbing and excessive friction in the toe area is the main cause of concern regarding the formation and worsening of a bunion. Several known risk factors may lead to the formation of a bunion later in your life, such as:
- Genetics. You may be genetically inclined to develop a bunion.
- An injury to a foot, minor or major. This can include excessive stress placed on the foot.
- Wearing tight shoes or commonly wearing pointy-toed shoes and/or high heels.
- Other conditions such as Rheumatoid arthritis
How is a bunion diagnosed?
Bunions are generally easy to diagnose because of the physical deformity that this condition causes. However, your doctor may still advise you to have an X-ray or other imaging of the foot to make an accurate diagnosis. Imaging may be recommended to ensure the integrity of your toes and feet is intact, and there are no fractures or soft tissue injuries.
Below is a list of symptoms that you should discuss with our podiatrists in Fairfax, VA that bunions may cause:
- The frequent formation of callouses both in the area of your big toe and the rest of your foot
- Swelling around the big toe
- Decreased range of motion
- The appearance of a bump on the inside of the foot
How are bunions treated?
There are several steps you can take to prevent a bunion from forming or stop a current bunion from worsening.
- Be aware of any changes to the shape of your feet.
- Make sure that your shoes fit properly, especially in the toe area. Avoid high heels and pointy-toed shoes
- Buy a pair of new shoes in the evening as your feet will be slightly larger and swollen in the evening hours.
- Get custom orthotics for your shoes to help distribute weight evenly across your feet.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Treat your feet! Soak your feet in warm water with Epsom Salts.
- A foot massage and elevation of your feet will aid circulation to and from your feet.
If conservative measures do not help the pain, surgery may be necessary. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Vetter or Dr. Dharia at the Oakton Foot and Ankle Center in Fairfax, VA to discuss bunion treatment by calling (703) 352-8888.
Why Splinters Need to be Removed
Regardless of whether the splinter is wood, glass, or even a plant thorn, you must remove it from the foot as soon as possible. Why? Because these foreign objects also contain germs, which can lead to an infection if the splinter isn’t promptly and fully removed.
How to Remove a Splinter Yourself
You probably have all the tools you need at home to remove a splinter safely. Of course, it’s important to go over the basics of safe splinter removal. Here are tips for safely removing the splinter:
- Soak the foot in warm water for a few minutes to soften the skin
- Wash your hands thoroughly before removing the splinter
- Once the skin has softened in the water, see if you can squeeze the splinter out by simply applying pressure to both sides (like you would a pimple)
- If squeezing doesn’t work, you can use tweezers or a sewing needle to remove the foreign object (just make sure to disinfect these tools first with rubbing alcohol)
- If the splinter cannot be grabbed with tweezers, use the needle to create a small opening around the splinter to make it easier to grab
- Be gentle and careful when removing the splinter to avoid breaking it
While a splinter often isn’t a big deal there will be situations in which turning to a podiatric physician will be the best option. You should turn to one if:
- You aren’t able to remove the splinter or foreign object yourself
- The area becomes red, tender, swollen, or contains pus (signs of infection)
- You feel like there’s a splinter but you can’t see it
- You have diabetes or nerve damage in your feet (do not try to remove a splinter yourself)
- The splinter is too deep or too painful
- Your child is too squeamish or won’t sit still so you can remove the splinter
Non-Surgical Care for Bone Spurs
Most podiatrists attempt non-surgical care before turning to any operating on a bone spur. These simple steps help to minimize pain and relieve suffering. Typically, they'll start by suggesting over-the-counter pain medication or prescribing high-dose medicines of this type. Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium can all help to cut back on this kind of bone spur pain.
However, they may also suggest icing the area, prescribe regular massage visits, or even provide specialized shoes or footwear that support the bone spur and minimize your pain. The extra padding helps to keep the spur from rubbing up against the shoe and worsening. Sometimes, they may also prescribe a weight-loss routine, including a specialized diet and controlled exercise routines to help decrease foot pressure.
Most of the time, these treatments help to minimize pain and keeps you on your feet. Typically, they rarely cause any serious complications and can be worked around in your day-to-day life. But, unfortunately, there are instances in which a bone spur could be more than a minor nuisance. In these situations, surgery is necessary to ensure that you recover fully from this problem.
Does your bone spur press on your nerves and limit your range of motion? If so, you're not alone. Many people experience this kind of struggle and need surgery to recovery. Surgeons start by checking the extent of your bone spur and seeing how it impacts your foot and leg and your mobility.
Then, they'll carefully come up with a surgical plan that removes the spur and keeps your body safe. This procedure requires carefully opening up the skin around the spur and surgically cutting it away from the foot. A short recovery period will follow, one that helps to ensure your foot fully recovers before you put excess weight on it.
Find Help Today
If you think you have a bone spur and want to get help, reach out to a local podiatrist today to learn more. They'll work with you to find a treatment plan that makes sense. Catching it early enough should minimize your need for surgery. With this type of help, you can regain a pain-free life and transition back to the everyday experiences that your bone spur has robbed from you.
What problems does high blood pressure pose?
People with hypertension often deal with plaque buildup in the blood vessels. This is known as atherosclerosis. Plaque buildup also causes a decrease in circulation in the legs and feet. This can also increase your risk for peripheral artery disease (PAD). Over time, this decreased circulation can also lead to ulcers and, in more severe cases, amputation. This is why it’s incredibly important that you have a podiatrist that you turn to regularly for checkups and care if you have been diagnosed with hypertension.
What are the signs of poor circulation in the feet?
Wondering if you may already be dealing with poor circulation? Here are some of the telltale signs:
- Your feet and legs cramp up, especially during physical activity
- Color changes to the feet
- Numbness or tingling
- Temperature changes in your feet
- Hair loss on the legs or feet
By getting your blood pressure under control we can also reduce your risk for developing PAD, heart disease, and other complications associated with hypertension. Some medications can be prescribed by your podiatrist to improve peripheral artery disease. Surgery may also be necessary to remove the blockage or widen the blood vessel to improve blood flow to the legs and feet.
If you are worried about your hypertension and how it may be impacting the health of your feet, there is never a better time to turn to a podiatrist for answers, support, and care.
Are You Able to Put Weight on Your Foot?
One method that you can use to determine whether or not you have actually broken a toe is checking if you can put weight on your foot. If you can walk on your foot without limping or pain, your toe is likely not broken. Icing the toe and using some non-prescription anti-inflammatory medication will probably be enough. In the event that you continue to experience swelling or severe pain, you should see a doctor about your toe.
Does Your Toe Have a Deep Wound?
You should take a close look at your injured toe. If your toe has a deep wound or cut, the bone in your toe might get exposed to the air and a doctor should check out your injured toe. Another sign that you have a broken toe is bruising. Additionally, one more sign that you have actually broken your toe is some discoloration on or near your toe. An obvious sign of a broken toe is if it is at a different angle than the toe on your other foot.
What Else Should I Know About Broken Toes?
Taping is a common solution for a broken toe. This works just fine if the break in the toe is simple and the bones are still in alignment. Taping your broken toe will not help it heal properly, though. That is why you should keep the following information in mind:
- Consult a doctor about your broken toe so it heals correctly.
- Taping your toe could worsen the situation if you have a bad break in your toe.
- Taping your toe is only a viable solution in some circumstances.
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