The Shanty

The Shanty
where I grew up

Friday, October 8, 2010

Bunions Are Not Warts

A common statement out of my mouth is, “I have bad feet.” People always ask me what that means exactly and I hesitate to explain. There are several television shows I’ve seen that imply (or falsely show) a bunion is a wart type growth on the foot…something disgusting that only nasty people with nasty feet get. So you can understand my hesitation of saying, “I have bunions.”

Allow me to educate you on what a bunion is:

“The common bunion is a localized area of enlargement of the inner portion of the joint at the base of the big toe. The enlargement actually represents additional bone formation, often in combination with a misalignment of the big toe. The normal position of the big toe (straight forward) becomes outward-directed toward the smaller toes. The enlarged joint at the base of the big toe (the first metatarsophalangeal joint) can become inflamed with redness, tenderness, and pain. A small fluid-filled sac (bursa) adjacent to the joint can also become inflamed (bursitis) leading to additional swelling, redness, and pain.”

Basically it’s extra bone growth on the outside of your big toe lower joint. Do you have any idea what extra bone growth feels like? It is not something you can treat and make it go away. The only way to get rid of it is to have surgery. Painful surgery at that…I had a bunionectomy on my right foot around 8 years ago. Incidentally I had to have the procedure re-done just weeks after due to pins backing out of the bone. I currently have an ugly scar along with a literal loose screw pushing the skin up next to my scar. What exactly is a bunionectomy? The cut into your foot about 2 inches from your upper toe joint down. They then shave the extra bone off with a big “file” followed by breaking your big toe, finished by reattaching the tendons. Metal rods and screws are inserted in the broken toe to hold it in place. The reason for the broken toe is that the bunion causes the big toe to slant inward toward your other toes. So much so, it needs to be realigned. The healing time takes forever it seems and the pain is excruciating. There is no cast give to prevent bumping it or anything like that.

Because of my bunions I cannot wear closed toe shoes. In fact, I can’t wear any shoes unless they are in flip flop “fashion”. I love all the cute shoes girls get to wear but not me. My feet would never be able to squeeze into those shoes and even if they did, the throbbing agony I would be in has brought me to tears before. Running obviously requires closed toe shoes so I pay extra for ones made for those with bunions. They are still a very tight fit width-wise but they’re as good as it’s going to get unless I listen to the podiatrist and stop running altogether.

Bunions occur in women more than men. They can be hereditary or caused by wearing too small of shoes when younger and/or continuing to do so. Surgery does not guarantee they won’t come back. Even my right foot is starting to form another bunion. I’ve been brought to tears by getting bumped in that area or stepped on. It constantly hurts me. There is not much I can do though. I may consider surgery on my left foot…along with that removal of my loose screw on my right foot (it’s freaky and it hurts…although it is fun to say!) but not until after I complete the marathon I’m training so hard for.

My feet look pretty normal until I point out my ailments. Most people who have bunions as bad as mine are much, much older than me. I was definitely the youngest patient at the podiatrist 8 years ago when I was only 22 and needing surgery to ease the pain. As you can see below, when my feet are pushed together my toes are no where near touching like yours probably are...just to give you an idea of how far over my toes go.


  1. sorry girl!! I feel your pain about having bad feet. I have flat feet. Really flat feet. My podiatrist told me that I have one of the worst cases he has every seen. Basically my feel just don't have enough bone/muscle structure so they "cave" in. The only way to feel normal and not have horrible, annoying back pain is to wear really good shoes with my orthotics inside. So I always feel sad that I can't wear flip flops all summer or cute shoes. I would just be in pain if I did. You are really an inspiration to be running with feet like yours...ouch!

  2. I just read your post about the big toe. I am much older than you and have just got this horrible big toe growth that causes lots of pain and also now seems to make my spine crooked and the rest of me is mis-aligned. Have you had posture problems? I just did an article on my blog about it.
    I am seeing the foot man tomorrow.

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