Bunions are bumps or lumps that appear on the side of the foot at the base of the big toe. They occur when repeated pressure exerted on the big toe joint forces the joint out of its normal alignment so the top of the toe leans in toward the other toes while the base of the toe forms a painful lump. Bunions tend to occur in people who wear shoes that are very tight or restrictive in the toe area and among women who wear high heels on a regular basis. Some studies indicate they also may be more common among people with a family history of bunions and with specific foot shapes and gaits.
In their earliest stages, bunions may be treated with splints and gentle exercises designed to ease the joint back into its normal position, accompanied by custom orthotics to support the joint and relieve pressure on the big toe. Wearing shoes with plenty of room in the toe is also essential for healing. In bunions where the joint is less flexible, splinting may help restore the joint's normal position. Splints are usually worn at night and are used in combination with custom orthotics worn during the day. More severe cases may require surgery to reposition the joint and stabilize it using tiny pins or screws. Without treatment, the big toe can eventually cross over the other toes, causing extreme discomfort and making it difficult to find shoes that fit.
Corns and calluses form in areas where the soft tissues of the foot are exposed to pressure and friction. One of the primary differences between corns and calluses is that corns have a central “core” that can be very painful.
Corns and calluses require professional care to avoid infection and additional tissue injury that can occur when over-the-counter products are used. Usually, corns and calluses can be carefully trimmed to relieve painful symptoms. Recurrence can be prevented with the use of custom orthotics designed to relieve pressure and friction.
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