What Exactly Are Bunions?
We all know what bunions are... kind of. Mostly we know that a bunion is a bump on the medial side of the foot. Many think it's this gross, smelly bump with pus or something, like a callus from wearing pointy shoes. Really, what it is, is just swelling, and the enlargement of the metatarsal, and it sticks out at the metatarsophalangeal joint. It can often become painful, and get larger. The big toe can even push into the other toes and misalign the second and third toes. Bunions are predominantly in women, mostly because they often wear tight shoes, high heels, or narrow-toed shoes. It can be passed down, but it far less common than the previous. It is inherited by a faulty foot structure, and is more common in some foot types than others. If it isn't treated, not properly treated, or gets too severe, it may become harder to walk, and may develop arthritis. Usually, adults are unable to bend that joint.
Two other kinds of bunions- bunionettes and adolescent bunions, are also fairly common. Adolescent bunions are most common to children in their preteen to teenage years. They should be able to bend that joint, as opposed to adults, but catching it early and at this age, it is easier to deal with. Changing shoe size, toe space, and stretching can often help or even ameliorate the issue. If this doesn't help, then surgery will become an option if it is extremely painful and prohibits proper functionality, but is not recommended, because the chances of it coming back become much higher.
Bunionettes, also coined tailor's bunions, are similar to normal bunions, but are on the lateral side of the foot at the pinky toe rather than the big toe. Getting shoes with softer inside and spacious toe box can help tremendously with this issue.
Quality of Life
Bunions can affect life quality in several different levels. Generally, they tend to be fairly minor, but extremely painful ones can restrict activity and mobility. This can be troublesome to active people and especially the elderly. The elderly need what mobility they have left to navigate their homes or get to important places like the store or the doctor, and if they have trouble walking, this could easily cause some grief. Bunions can cause pain in other parts of the body, such as knees, feet, and back. These issues can cause or be caused by a change in how one moves and walks to accommodate the bunion and foot pain.
Making minor changes, such as footwear, the padding in the footwear, or added padding, changing daily activities, taking medications, icing the bunion, having injection therapy, or even orthotic devices are viable options. Most of these can be done at home, and can help tremendously. Injection therapy and orthotic devices would be the next step up, and would cost quite a bit more than home remedies, and would be more for worse bunions.
The surgical option for an extreme bunion, or at least, an extremely painful bunion, would be to go to an ankle surgeon and they will modify the bone. The surgery's purpose is to lower the pain, so the surgeon would remove the protruding part of the bone, and correct the foot and tissues around it. How the surgery turns out, or how the surgeon does the procedure will be weighted according to your life, age, the amount of deformity, and most likely other things as well.