Common bunions are uncomfortable, bony deformities that can be identified by a rotated and protruding big toe, along with additional bone formation in some cases.
This is caused by a growth to the inner portion of the joint that lies at the base of the big toe.
When enlarged, this causes the big toe to be pushed outward and rotate towards the smaller toes.
Bunions are progressive deformities, meaning that they will continue to progress until treated properly.
The most common signs and symptoms include inflammation, pain, and tenderness to the affected area.
What Causes Bunions?
While the precise cause of bunions is not well understood, the main risk factor appears to be genetically related. Overpronation of the lower limbs and other conditions that lead to abnormal foot function are thought to contribute to the formation of bunions.
Other less common causes include trauma, neuromuscular disorders, and growth issues that cause over-rotation of the feet.
Women are more commonly diagnosed with bunions than men, due to their tendency to wear tight fitting, close-toed shoes.
It is thought that this squeezing of the toes together causes the abnormal bone formation that leads to bunions.
Bunions Signs & Symptoms
Bunions do not always cause symptoms. In some cases, a bunion may not be noticed until months after they form. Normally, there is some pain that can be associated with walking on a bunion. If left untreated, continually putting pressure on the bunion can lead to arthritis and chronic foot pain. Swelling of the soft tissue, redness, and localized tenderness are the main symptoms bunions cause.
A small fluid-filled sac (bursa) adjacent to the joint can also form and become inflamed (bursitis), leading to additional swelling, redness, and pain. A more deep joint pain may occur as localized arthritis develops in later stages of the condition.
A physician will consider a bunion as a possible diagnosis if they discover the signs as mentioned above during the physical examination.
Radiographs (X-ray films) of the foot can be helpful to determine the integrity of the joints of the foot and to screen for underlying conditions, such as arthritis or gout. X-ray films are a great method of observing the alignment of the toes when taken in a standing, weight-bearing position.
There are multiple treatment options for bunions, both for relieving pain and attempting to correct the deformity. Your doctor may recommend:
- that you wear more supportive shoes with wider soles, so as to remove painful pressure to the area and promote correct function.
- In addition, anti-inflammatory medications may also be recommended to reduce swelling and pain caused by the protruding bone.
- There are also bunion “shields” available for those that are a match, and custom orthotic insoles for shoes can also help to alleviate pain.
If your symptoms decrease, proper foot care and maintenance can usually ensure continued relief. For those that have persistent pain, there is a corrective surgery option that can fix the issue and stop the pain, called a bunionectomy. This procedure consists of removing the bony deformity and re-aligning the big toe. Still, proper foot care as described above is critical to proper healing after surgery.
When dealing with bunions, it is best to ensure that they are caught early in development so you can prepare for treatment and not cause additional damage, as most patients do. Bunions are progressive deformities that get worse over time, so consult one of our friendly staff members now to make sure you are not in the early stages of bunion formation!