Having a severe bunion can certainly be a painful experience and can sometimes affect quality of life, especially in areas we love such as staying active.
Runners tend to be used to the strain put on their bodies from being pushed to the max. But, how do you know if a little niggle in the leg is due to training or if it is something more serious?
Many people are unaware that bunions can also cause leg pain, which may lead to more serious health conditions if left untreated.
This article explores the causes of bunions, how they can trigger leg pain and what you can do about them.
What Is A Bunion?
A bunion is an enlargement of the joint at the base of your big toe and is characterized as a foot deformity.
It’s caused by excess pressure on the ball of your foot, which forces the bones out of alignment.
The result is often a bony bump swelling on the side of your big toe.
The condition usually occurs when there is too much force applied to the ball of your foot during walking or running. This extra pressure results in the bone pushing against the soft tissue around it.
Over time this can lead to inflammation and eventually arthritis.
Why Are Bunions So Painful?
Bunions are painful because they are inflamed and swollen. They can also become infected if not treated properly.
If you have bunions, you might notice sharp pains shooting through your toes, particularly after standing for long periods of time.
You might also feel tenderness and stiffness in your feet and ankles.
If you develop bunions, it’s important to treat them right away. Otherwise, you could end up developing other problems like arthritis.
Can A Bunion Cause Leg Pain?
Yes! A bunion can definitely cause leg pain. In fact, bunions are one of the most common reasons why runners get shin splints.
If you’re experiencing pain in your legs, it’s likely that your bunions are causing it.
It’s important to remember that bunions aren’t just a cosmetic problem. They can actually cause damage to your joints and muscles. Therefore, it’s crucial to seek treatment right away.
How To Treat Bunions
There are many treatments available for bunions. Some involve surgery while others don’t require any medical intervention.
Your doctor will recommend the best course of action depending on your specific situation.
Here are some of the most popular ways to treat bunions:
Orthotics are devices designed to correct faulty biomechanics. This helps reduce stress on your body and prevent further injury.
Orthotics are commonly prescribed for those who suffer from plantar fasciitis.
Surgical treatment involves removing part of your big toe so that it no longer rubs against the bone underneath. This helps relieve the friction between your toe and the surrounding tissues.
Surgery is only recommended for severe cases where orthotics fail to provide relief.
Non-surgical treatment includes using special pads, wraps, or shoes to ease the pressure on your feet. This allows your body to heal naturally without having to undergo surgery.
You may experience several types of bunions symptoms. Here are some of the most common ones:
When you first start noticing bunions, you might feel a dull ache in your foot. As the condition worsens, however, you might notice sharp pain shooting throughout your toes.
When you walk or run, you might find yourself feeling stiffer than usual. This is especially true if you have bunions on both feet.
Your bunions may be accompanied by tenderness and swelling. It’s possible that you could even lose some of your skin around the affected area.
Your bunions may become infected if you don’t take proper care of them. Infected bunions often smell bad and look red and puffy.
If you suspect that you have bunions, make sure to visit your podiatrist as soon as possible. They’ll perform an examination and determine whether you need treatment.
Who Gets Bunions?
The condition usually develops over time, but there are some factors that increase your risk of developing a bunion.
These include having flat feet, wearing high heels for long periods, and having poor circulation.
It’s important to note that not everyone who has flat feet will develop a bunion, so this isn’t always a sign of bad posture. Some people have flat feet without any problems.
Extended Risks Of Bunions
While bunions are relatively harmless, they can lead to other health issues if left untreated. In fact, bunions can affect your entire lower limbs, including your ankle, knee, hip, back, and groin.
If you ignore these conditions, you could end up with more serious injuries such as arthritis.
As mentioned earlier, bunions can cause inflammation in your joints, which can eventually result in osteoarthritis.
You should see your doctor as soon as possible if you think you have bunions because early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent joint damage.
Another potential issue associated with bunions is nerve entrapment. When your big toe presses against your small toe, it can irritate nearby nerves.
Over time, this irritation can cause numbness and tingling in your foot.
To avoid these complications, try to wear comfortable footwear when you go out. Also, consider seeing a podiatrist if you notice any changes in your feet.
Your podiatrist can examine your feet and recommend appropriate treatments.
You can reduce your chances of getting one by following a few simple steps. First, get rid of uncomfortable and unsupportive footwear. Second, keep your feet warm during cold weather.
Here are some additional ways of easing bunion pain and reducing inflammation:
Injecting steroids into the affected area reduces inflammation and relieves pain. However, steroid shots should be used as a last resort since they can weaken your immune system.
Ice packs work well to reduce swelling and alleviate pain. Simply apply ice directly to the affected areas for 10 minutes every hour.
Medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs, cortisone creams, and antibiotics can all help with the symptoms associated with bunions.
It’s always best to consult your doctor before taking any medication.
Exercise can also help ease pain caused by bunions. Exercises like stretching, walking, or swimming can improve blood flow and strengthen muscles.
Physical therapy is an excellent way to strengthen your feet and improve circulation.
Stretching exercises can also help loosen tight calf muscles and increase blood flow.
Massage therapy has been shown to reduce muscle tension and relax sore muscles. It can also help stimulate blood flow and promote healing.
Dry needling is a form of acupuncture that uses fine needles to release trigger points in the muscles. Trigger points are small knots of tissue that produce chronic pain.
By releasing these trigger points, dry needling can greatly reduce pain and discomfort.
Acupuncture works by stimulating certain nerve endings in the skin. It can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
If you suffer from bunions, make sure to visit your podiatrist regularly, so they can diagnose and treat them effectively.
They may suggest various home remedies or medications to ease the pain and prevent further injury.
The sooner you seek medical attention, the better off you will be, and the sooner you’ll be able to get your life back on track and enjoy your favorite activities.