What is it?
A bunion is an enlargement of the joint at the base of the big toe and is almost always accompanied with a hallux valgus, that is the deviation of the big toe to rewards the lesser toes. The enlargement of the joint creates problems with pain in the joint and pressure on the enlarged joint from the footwear. This can be due to an arthritis in the joint because of the deviation and the pressure from footwear can cause a bursitis swelling and pain. There is often corns on the adjacent toes. The most common cause of bunions is generally considered a combination of genetics, forefoot biomechanics combined with inadequate fitting footwear. Lots of questions get asked online about bunions and lots of different answers get given.
How to manage it?
As the pain from bunions is from two sources a different strategy is needed to manage it.
If the pain is due to the arthritis type symptoms inside the joint then the approach to this is generally the use of medication for pain relief and exercises to keep the joint mobile.
If the pain is due to pressure from the shoes on the enlarged joint then the approach is to use better fitting footwear and to use doughnut like pads to keep the pressure off the joint.
There is no way to make a bunion go away without surgery, all that can be done conservatively is to manage the symptoms using the two approaches outlined above. Generally this will be successful.
When to see the doctor?
It will be necessary to see the doctor for bunions if the Conservative self managed measures are not successful, in which case better advice can be given on how to self manage the problem. The other reason to see the doctor is that if these conservative measures are not successful or if you need surgery. Surgery is the only way to remove a bunion. There is also a high possibility that a bunion can occur after the surgery if the factors that cause the bunion, such as poor fitting shoes, are not addressed.