Doc Talk | Coping with bunions

There are a lot of common misconceptions about bunions.

Some think they are warts. Many aren't really sure what they are.

But for those who have bunions it can make walking painful and buying shoes challenging.

Bunions are basically just a bumps that people usually get on the side of their big toe.

They're more common in women, likely due to shoe wear, I too am one of the many women affected, so I spoke with an orthopedic surgeon about how to tackle it.

Dr. Michael Werner says the bunion on my right foot is a mild case, but a good example of what a bunion is.

“The bump, Latin for turnip, bunion. That's the bump that people think about,” Werner said. “Also it's the toe going the wrong way and the third component is the widened forefoot. In the really severe ones, we also have a pronation rotation deformity to the toe, which you don't really have.”

Dr. Werner says bunions are a result of genetics and shoe wear.

“We have to fight Mother Nature. Mother Nature wants your toe crooked,” Werner said. “We want your toe straight.”

For more mild cases, or for those who are young and active or involved in sports, Dr. Werner tries to avoid surgery.

“It could make a crooked toe that moves a straight toe that's stiff that then makes it hard to run for a long time,” Werner said.

But for everyone else, surgery is the best way to fix the bunion.

Dr. Werner takes a two-prong approach.

“Two cuts in the bone, straighten the toe, take the bump off, fix it with little screws or staples or what different internal fixation can be used,” Werner said.

But there are many different surgeries that can fix the bunion, and even after surgery bunions can still grow back.

If nothing else works, the toe can be fused.

“It depends on the severity of the problem, the patient's age, their activity level,” Werner said.

Ultimately Dr. Werner says not to worry about your bunion until it really starts to hurt.

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