What is a Bunion?
A bunion (medically referred to as hallux valgus deformity) is recognized as the enlargement of the joint at the base of the big toe that typically results in pain, swelling, and redness in the area. The big toe itself is forced inward, toward the other toes as the joint is forced in the other direction creating a large abnormal bump on the outside edge of the big toe that reshapes the profile of the foot. This leads to crowding of the other toes. Though less common, the formation of a bunion on your smallest, pinkie, toe (known as a bunionette or tailor’s bunion) can occur.
What Causes Bunions?
There are many reasons bunions may form but, wearing shoes that don’t fit properly and are too tight is perhaps the leading cause. Shoes that are narrow or tight-toed, such as high heels, crowd the toes and encourage the formation of bunions. Thus, some studies have suggested that bunions are ten times more likely to occur in women.
Genetic factors also appear to play a role in the formation of bunions. Individuals can be born with extra bones in their feet which place them at a higher risk for developing bunions. Additionally, injury from chronic stress on the feet can also result in bunions, a common example being ballet dancers. Finally, medical conditions such as arthritis can result in the formation of bunions as well.
Treatment for Bunions
Treatments for bunions and bunion pain should begin with taking good care of your feet. You should wear shoes that allow plenty of space for your toes. Beyond this primary treatment, you can take anti-inflammatory medications. You can apply a cold pack to the area that reduces inflammation and brings relief to the area. Bunion splints, foam pads, and spacers can provide relief to the bunion pain. For certain cases, we can make orthotics to relieve pain by repositioning the foot and toes and adding support in necessary areas. Our doctors may also use cortisone injections into the joint at the base of the big toe.
When conservative means of addressing the problem prove to be ineffective, surgery to remove the bunion is often necessary. Medically referred to as a bunionectomy, this surgical procedure is considered an out-patient procedure and typically entails removing the bony growth of the bunion and realigning the big toe so that you can return normal activity without pain. This procedure is most often successful though there is a risk of the big toe returning to its previous deviated position.
Because our physicians strive to provide the best quality care for each and every patient, our doctors at American Foot and Leg Specialists take the time to evaluate every bunion case and prescribe the best treatment according to the individual’s symptoms.