If your elderly parent has been complaining about his big toe hurting to his elder care provider, he may have a bunion that is bothering him. A bunion will look like a bump on the side of the big toe. The bump is usually painless but as someone ages, it can start to cause foot pain and make it difficult for your parent to get around without feeling some pain in his foot.
Bunions are caused by an abnormality of the foot bones that causes the big toe to lean toward the second toe instead of being straight. The bunion may then cause the big toe to rub against and start to crowd the second toe, causing a deformity and pain.
Because bunions are genetic they are generally created due to bone structure, which is inherited. If your parent has dealt with flat feet, excessively flexible ligaments, or abnormal bone structure in his feet, he will be more likely to develop a bunion as he ages.
While there isn’t much your parent can do to stop a bunion from forming, there are steps he can take to make sure it doesn’t cause more pain or interfere with his active lifestyle.
The following things can aggravate a bunion and should try to be avoided.
- Shoes that are too tight or too narrow. When shoe shopping, your parent should look for good quality shoes and share with the shoe salesperson his bunion condition so it can be taken into account when shoes are purchased.
- Shoes that have pointy toes and scrunch the toes together as well as high-heel shoes. Many dress shoes come to a point at the toes and while they may look fashionable, they are not good for your parent’s bunion.
- Standing for long periods of time. If your parent knows he’s going somewhere with a lot of lines, you may want to have him hire an elder care provider that can run the errand for him. If your parent needs to be there (such as going to see a doctor), have someone like an elder care provider tag along to hold the place in line while your parent sits somewhere nearby until his turn.
- Arthritis. There’s not a lot that you can do to prevent your parent from getting arthritis, but if he develops it in his foot, it could make the bunion much more painful.
The only way to get rid of bunions is surgery, but not everyone has to have surgery.
Here are ways you can help your parent manage his bunion and maintain a good quality of life while living with it.
- Taking over-the-counter pain medications on bad days or when the pain needs to be managed. Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen can all help manage the pain on bad days.
- Wearing arch supports in his shoes.
- Wearing shoes that provide plenty of space for his toes and supportive soles. While flip-flops give his toes plenty of room, they may not provide the support his foot needs overall.
- Having his physician pad or tape his foot into a normal position and reducing pressure on the bunion. An elder care provider can help with this at home in between doctor visits.
Don’t let bunions stop your parent from exercising and enjoying life.