3 Things Diabetics Need To Know About Bunions

Bunions are foot deformities that are characterized by the development of a bony lump at the base of the big toe. These deformities occur when the big toe is forced inwards, towards the other toes, which forces the joint into an unnatural position. This joint then bulges outwards, creating a bunion. For otherwise-healthy people, bunions aren't always a concern, but for people with diabetes, bunions can cause serious issues. Here are three things diabetics need to know about bunions.

Why are bunions a concern for diabetics?

Bunions may seem like no big deal, and for non-diabetics that can be true, but for diabetics, bunions are a concern. This is because diabetes causes changes in your feet that make bunions more dangerous.

Diabetes can lead to neuropathy, also called nerve damage, in your feet. When your nerves are damaged, your ability to feel pain may be lessened. This means that you can develop a painful bunion and not even notice the problem, which allows it to get worse.

Calluses may also form on the side of your bunions. Calluses form in response to friction and pressure, and if you can't feel your bunions, you won't feel them rubbing against or being squeezed by your shoes. Calluses develop quickly in diabetics, so this can happen before you know it. Left untreated, calluses break down and become ulcerated.

Ulcers are a serious concern since they can get infected and damage the surrounding tissue. This can lead to foot amputations; in fact, as many as 24% of diabetics who develop foot ulcers end up needing an amputation. Fortunately, all of these complications can be avoided by detecting bunions quickly and then seeing your podiatrist immediately for treatment.

What are the signs of bunions?

Bunions can be painful or tender, but if you have nerve damage in your feet due to diabetes, you won't notice this symptom. This is why it's important to keep on top of your daily foot exams. If you're visually inspecting your feet every day, bunions are easy to identify. In addition to the highly-noticeable lump at the base of your toe, you may also notice that the skin that covers the bunion is be red and the area around the bunion will be swollen. If you notice a bunion during your daily foot exam, show it to your family doctor or podiatrist right away.

How are bunions treated?

Your podiatrist can offer many treatments for your bunions. The first treatment is generally to select properly-fitting shoes, since poorly-fitting shoes can contribute to the development of bunions. Studies have shown that most people wear shoes that are narrower than their feet, so your podiatrist will need to measure your feet and then recommend an appropriate shoe.

New shoes may be all you need, but if not, your podiatrist may recommend orthoses or splints. Orthoses are inserts for your shoes that support your feet and hold your deformed toe in an appropriate position. Splints are strips of hard material that can also be used to non-surgically straighten the joint

If necessary, surgical treatments can be performed to straighten your joint and get rid of the bunion. Many different surgical procedures can be performed, but what they have in common is that one or more metal rods will be implanted in the bones of your big toe and big toe joint to maintain proper positioning of the joint. Your podiatrist will explain your specific surgical procedure in detail after deciding which method is best for your bunions.

Bunions can be dangerous for diabetics, so if you develop them, seek medical treatment right away to avoid complications. Click here for more information.