Maybe you and your mom have a great relationship and you want to be just like her when you are older, but for most teens, there comes a time when you distance yourself from your parents and become your own person. You especially hope you won’t get that same bump by your big toe that she has! Unfortunately, development of juvenile bunions is often due to the foot type you inherit, and the risk can pass from grandma to mom to daughter.
Why You Might Have Bunions
There are many factors at play, of course. You may have had curved feet (metatarsus adductus) when you were born. You might have flat feet that roll too far to the inside (overpronate), or trouble lifting the front of your foot as you walk (from a tight heel cord). Your foot bone connected to the big toe might be longer than normal, or you might have unusually loose ligaments in your feet.
All of these still indicate genetic roots, but other possible causes include injuring your toe or having a condition like rheumatoid arthritis or a neurological (nerve) disorder like cerebral palsy. If your bunion starts early (11 to 14 years of age), you should visit our office and have Dr. Parker examine it and check for other conditions that might be present.
How to Treat a Bunion
The first place to start bunion treatment is with your shoes. Does it strike you that just at the time you are becoming more concerned with fashion and start wearing stylish shoes with pointed, tight toes or higher heels, the joint by your big toe starts moving out of position? Maybe that’s not a coincidence. We know ballerina flats and sky high heels are what’s in right now, but is it worth damaging your feet to fit in with the latest fashion? There are plenty of shoe styles that are still attractive but fit your feet without forcing them into odd shapes.
You can treat bunions with ice and medication (call our office first—some pain relievers containing aspirin can cause serious illness in people under age 20). You can also try splints, toe wedges, and protective padding where the bump rubs against your shoe. The main goal of these is to slow down the progression of the deformity and keep pain under control, but they will not get rid of a bunion. Once your foot has stopped growing, we can discuss whether surgery is needed to correct the joint alignment.
Surgery for Bunions
There are over a hundred specific procedures for correcting bunions, but they fall into a few main groups. When the toe hasn’t drifted out of position, we might just shave off part of the protruding bone. Other times just repairing too tight or too loose ligaments can improve the alignment of your joint. There are many procedures that cut out a small portion of either the toe or foot bones, line them up, and fix them in place with screws or plates until they are healed. We may need to also address correcting flatfoot, metatarsus adductus, or heel cord problems at the same time for the best and longest lasting results.
Plan on a few days in the hospital and several weeks on crutches for the more complicated surgeries. Bones usually take about 4 to 6 weeks to heal, and putting weight on them too soon only slows down the process. After healing, we may recommend using custom-designed orthotics to better support the foot and keep pressure off the joint. Bunions can return even after surgery if the underlying causes are not dealt with.
Expert Bunion Care in Houston, TX
Dr. Robert Parker has been treating feet in the Houston area since 1970 and served as an examiner on the American Board of Podiatric Surgery for 14 years. There is no one better qualified to treat or operate on your bunions, and you can trust us to provide the highest quality of care for your feet. You can reach our office on Memorial Drive by calling (281) 497-2850 or using the “book an appointment” button on our website.