What is a Bunion?
Hallux Valgus is a painful condition that can both quite literally and figuratively knock you right off your feet. The more common term for Hallux Valgus is a bunion, or a visible bump on the side of the big toe caused by a bone structure problem. Bunions can cause your big toe to lean towards the second toe rather than pointing straight forward. Basically, the bunion or visible bump is the result of a bone-alignment problem which is more than likely caused by doing lots of walking in improper shoes. The more you walk on your feet this way, the more likely you are to aggravate the problem and require surgery. I had this visible bump on the right side of my toe for two years, before finally discovering what it was. The reason I didn't ever suspect I had bunions was because I've associated the pain and swelling with infrequent gout attacks and/or a fractured toe. I've had both of these ailments in the recent past. Now, having experienced all three of these foot problems, I feel pretty well qualified to describe the differences between all of them. I also believe I know how to deal with the problem of bunions in such a way to prevent the need for surgery which I will explain later.
The Difference Between Gout and Bunions
Gout attacks come on rather suddenly, but also heal rather quickly with an anti-inflammatory pain medication such as Indomethacin. I would rate the pain of bunions as a close second to a gout attack. The pain is not quite as severe, but unlike a gout attack, it takes my feet several weeks to heal. With gout, the pain for me can be just as excruciating whether I am on my feet or lying down. Bunions can be excruciatingly painful, but I am usually able to manage the pain a little better by simply resting my feet. Staying off my feet as much as possible is the only way to help the bunions heal. Gout pain tends to be more in the joint of the big toe. With my last bunion flare-up, the pain covered the upper and lower side of the big toe and even affected the bottom of my foot. Bunions can also cause some very uncomfortable throbbing at night and make it difficult to sleep. Getting out of bed can be a traumatic experience, but overall, the pain is far more manageable than the worst stages of a gout attack which is constant, excruciating pain and extremely sensitive to the mere, light touch of a bed sheet.
Recognizing the Difference Between Bunions and a Fractured Toe
I couldn't have possibly been given a more confusing set of coincidences when it comes to understanding problems with my foot. I've had gout, a fractured toe, and a bunion all on my right toe within a time-frame of three years, or at least the latter two. When I first fractured my toe, I felt swelling and throbbing on my 2nd toe, rather than the big toe. I finally went into have the doctor look at it. She shook her head and told me that the swelling didn't look like gout. She was absolutely right. X-Rays proved that I had a fractured toe. The degree of pain was similar to my most recent bunion flare-up. The only difference is that the swelling and pain was pretty much limited to the surrounding toe where-as the bunion pain covered a much wider area around the affected bone. The last time I felt pain in the area of my toe, I was uncertain if I was on the verge of having a rare gout attack or if my previously fractured toe was causing me some problems. By a stroke of good fortune, my mother happened to be visiting us that day and I decided to show her my foot. She immediately recognized the bump as a bunion. I looked up the condition online and found several pictures which looked exactly like mine. Then, just when I thought my right foot was beginning to heal, I felt some pain on the bottom of my left big toe. Two days later, I recognized the visible bump on the side of my left toe. The one thing I didn't do was go limping into my doctor's office. From what I've read about bunions, there is not much a doctor can do other than prescribe prescription-strength pain killers or recommend surgery. I knew I had a bunion problem, but what would I do about it? I spent the better part of six weeks learning about my ailment and tried to avoid using my feet as much as possible (not an easy task in my line of work). I am one to avoid doctors and surgeries at all cost, so I decided to do my own research and remedies on Hallux Valgus: