A bunion is an enlargement of bone at the great toe joint. Tight shoes don't cause bunions, but they can aggravate them. Bunions are often inherited and become worse over time if left untreated they can cause pain, swelling, skin irritation and other foot problems. Bunion deformities are often part of a more generalized problem related to improper foot motion. There are presently over 25 types of bunion procedures performed today. The choice of procedure is based on many factors.
Bunions are not inherited, but do tend to run in families. What is inherited is the poor or faulty foot type, that mechanically can lead to the instability around the joint that will eventually lead to bunions, how soon, how quickly and how bad they are or become is assumed to be very dependant on the footwear. A number of other factors are known to play a role in the cause of bunions and hallux valgus. Bunions can follow foot injuries and develop in those with neuromuscular problems. Those with flat feet or pronated feet appear to be more prone to the instability about the joint and have a higher incidence of bunions. Some activities (eg ballet dancing) puts added pressure on the joint and may increase the chance of bunions developing.
If a foot bunion is developing, you may experience some of these symptoms. Bulge or bump on the outside of the base of your big toe. Swelling. Redness. Soreness. Thickening of the skin in that location. Corns or calluses. Limited movement of your big toe. Persistent or periodic pain. The pain you experience may be mild or severe. It may become increasingly difficult to walk in your normal shoes. The pressure on your other toes can cause your toenails to grow inward or your smaller toes to become bent.
Orthopaedic surgeons diagnose bunions on the basis of physical examination and weight bearing x-rays. Two angles are assessed, the intermetatarsal angle, that is between the first and second metatarsals (the bones that lead up to the base of the toes). If this angle exceeds 9? (the angle found in the healthy foot) it is abnormal and referred to as metatarsus primus varus. the hallux valgus angle, that is, the angle of the big toe as it drifts toward the small toe. An angle that exceeds 15? is considered to be a sign of pathology.
Non Surgical Treatment
Most of the time, non-surgical (conservative) treatment can control the symptoms of a foot bunion or bunionette. These include. Appropriate Footwear, changing to wide fitting footwear reduces the pressure on the big toe and prevents shoes from rubbing on the bony lump. When possible, go barefoot Toe stretchers are a really simple way to reduce foot bunion pain. Toe Stretchers, wearing toe spaces that fit in-between the toes help to stretch the muscles and ligaments around the toes, improving the alignment and relieving pain. Find out more about how these work in the Toe Stretcher section. Painkillers, your doctor may prescribe or recommend over-the-counter medication to reduce the pain and inflammation. Foot bunion correctors can be worn in your shoe to help realign your foot if you suffer from foot bunions. Orthotics. There are a number of over-the-counter shoe inserts that can help relieve symptoms. Bunion correctors work by realigning the bones in your foot to reduce pressure on the affected toe. There are both day-time and night-time splints on the market, although the evidence of their effectiveness is lacking. Ice. Applying ice packs to the foot can help reduce pain and inflammation. Bunion pads help to reduce any friction on your big toe. Bunion Pads. You can also get protective foot cushions that sit over the skin to prevent the hallux abducto valgus rubbing on your shoes.
A bunion is considered moderate when it pushes against the second toe. In fact, over time, the big toe can force itself under the second toe, causing it to buckle and form a "hammer toe." If non-invasive treatment is not effective, and the joint is still causing discomfort, the doctor may suggest a bunionectomy to realign the big toe. With this procedure, the bunion head is moved over realigning the angled great toe joint back to a normal position. The tendons and ligaments are also balanced for a more normal pull on the toe. In moderate bunion cases, you will experience a relatively rapid recovery. The procedure allows for immediate weight on the foot in a boot and return to tennis shoes in about a month. The choice of procedure best for each patient depends on the deformity size, the stiffness of the 1st metatarsal and the ease of realignment of the 1st metatarsal during the clinical exam.