A foot bunion is a common cause of foot pain caused by deformity of one of the toe bones. They most commonly affect the big toe, known as hallux abducto valgus, but can also affect the little toe, known as a bunionette. The classic presentation is a large bump on the outer side of the big toe that is red, swollen and painful caused by the toe deviating across towards the second toe. Left untreated, the condition usually gets gradually worse, so it is important to get treatment early on else you may end up needing bunion surgery.
Bunions occur with greater regularity in women than men, and they may sometimes run in families. You may also have an increased likelihood of bunions if you are born with certain bone abnormalities in your feet. Factors that may increase your chances of developing a bunion include long-term use of narrow-toed and/or high-heeled footwear. Arthritis. Toe trauma. Laxity of your connective tissues (ligament laxity). Limb length inequalities. Genetics. Certain foot problems (e.g. flatfoot, over-pronation, etc.).
SymptomsThe signs and symptoms of a bunion include a bulging bump on the outside of the base of your big toe, swelling, redness or soreness around your big toe joint, Thickening of the skin at the base of your big toe, Corns or calluses, these often develop where the first and second toes overlap, persistent or intermittent pain, restricted movement of your big toe. Although bunions often require no medical treatment, see your doctor or a doctor who specializes in treating foot disorders (podiatrist or orthopedic foot specialist) if you have persistent big toe or foot pain, a visible bump on your big toe joint, decreased movement of your big toe or foot, difficulty finding shoes that fit properly because of a bunion.
Your doctor will ask questions about your past health and carefully examine your toe and joint. Some of the questions might be: When did the bunions start? What activities or shoes make your bunions worse? Do any other joints hurt? The doctor will examine your toe and joint and check their range of motion. This is done while you are sitting and while you are standing so that the doctor can see the toe and joint at rest and while bearing weight. X-rays are often used to check for bone problems or to rule out other causes of pain and swelling. Other tests, such as blood tests or arthrocentesis (removal of fluid from a joint for testing), are sometimes done to check for other problems that can cause joint pain and swelling. These problems might include gout , rheumatoid arthritis , or joint infection.
Non Surgical Treatment
Most bunions can be treated without surgery. The first step for treating bunions is to ensure that your shoes fit correctly. Often good footwear is all that is needed to alleviate the problem. Shoes that are wide enough to avoid pressure on the bunion are the obvious first step. Look for shoes with wide insteps and broad toes and definitely no high heels. Sometimes, you can get your existing shoes stretched out by a shoe repairer. Seek advice from a podiatrist. Pads and toe inserts. Protective bunion pads may help to cushion the joint and reduce pain. Toe inserts are available that splint the toes straight. It may be recommended that you wear some orthotics to improve your foot position when walking. Medicines. Some people find anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen or aspirin, or paracetamol help ease the pain of their bunions.
The primary goal of bunion surgery is to relieve the pain associated with the deformity. This is accomplished by correcting the underlying abnormal metatarsal position by realigning it toward the second toe. Removing excessive bone formation on the bunion "bump", releasing the soft tissue tightness which is pulling the big toe towards the second toe. Tightening the soft tissues which are overly stretched on the bump side of the joint. Re-establish the correct alignment of the cartilage surfaces. Move the sesamoid bones into correct alignment. Realign the great toe. Bunion surgery procedures are based on many factors, including health, age and lifestyle of the patient. However, a critical factor in procedure choice is the grading of the bunion deformity.