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Foot pain is one of the most common medical complaints among both women and men, and it tends to become more common with age. Many problems can cause foot discomfort, including painful bunions that affect about a quarter of American adults up to age 65 and more than a third of seniors.

Bunions can range from relatively minor bumps or lumps to a severe deformity of the big toe joint. Finding relief means seeking medical care as early as possible. Fortunately, Dominique Nickson, MD, is skilled in treating bunions, from mild to severe, providing care tailored to each patient’s specific needs. Here’s how he and his team treat bunions in patients at Next Step Orthopedics.

Why bunions form

Bunions are a deformity of the big toe joint, and they typically form as a result of pressure on your toe. When the upper part (or tip) of your big toe is crowded or pushed in toward the rest of your toes, it exerts continual pressure on the big toe joint, eventually causing it to move out of its normal position. That’s what creates a bunion’s characteristic lump or bump on the side of your foot.

Bunions are often caused by wearing shoes that don’t fit properly, especially shoes that are too tight in the toe area. Wearing high heels regularly can also cause bunions to form. Other possible risk factors include:

  • Injury to the big toe
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis of the knee or hip
  • Family history of bunions
  • Unusual foot structure

When a bunion isn’t treated, ongoing pressure on the toe joint can eventually cause the toe to cross over neighboring toes, resulting in extreme discomfort. Many people have problems finding shoes that accommodate the misshapen joint.

Treating bunions

Fortunately, bunion treatment is fairly straightforward. Dr. Nickson offers both non-surgical and surgical solutions, depending on your specific needs.

In a bunion’s earlier stages, when the toe joint is still flexible, nonsurgical options like bracing and stretching may help coax the joint back into its normal position. Taking anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling and pain can also help, along with prescription shoe inserts to support the joint and prevent crowding.

For more advanced bunions, Dr. Nickson may recommend bunion surgery. In this procedure, the big toe joint is surgically realigned so it’s properly positioned. The surgery is minimally invasive and almost always performed on an outpatient basis, using light sedation to keep you completely comfortable throughout the procedure.

After bunion surgery, Dr. Nickson provides a special surgical “boot” to protect the toe and keep pressure off the joint. Recovery typically takes about six weeks. Once you’ve recovered, Dr. Nickson may recommend special exercises to promote better movement.

Don’t ignore your foot pain

Because of the pain they cause, bunions can change the way you walk, increasing pressure on other parts of your foot, as well as your knees, hips, and lower back. Without treatment, you can wind up with additional painful problems that interfere with your quality of life.

At Next Step Orthopedics, Dr. Nickson helps patients from McKinney, Texas, get the custom care they need to correct their bunions, relieve their symptoms, and prevent further problems. To find out more about bunion treatment, call us at (972) 547-0047 or book an appointment online

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