A bunion or hallux abducto valgus occurs when your big toe points toward your second toe. The big toe will touch the second or causes the second toe to overlap the big toe. This causes a boney bump to appear on the outside edge of your big toe. Bunions are more common in women and can sometimes run in families. Hallux abducto valgus can develop as a result of an inherited structural defect or stress on your foot or due to a medical condition such as arthritis. If there is an underlying structural defect in your foot this can lead to compensations causing stresses and pressures to be applied unevenly on the joints and tendons in your feet. This imbalance in pressure and stress makes your big toe joint unstable. Over time this causes the medial side of the 1st metatarsal head to develop excess bone that protrudes out beyond the normal shape of your foot. The size of the bunion can get larger over time which causes further crowding your other toes and causing pain. Pain from a bunion can be severe enough to keep you from walking comfortably in normal shoes. The condition may become painful as the bump gets worse, and extra bone and a fluid-filled sac (bursa) grow at the base of the big toe. By pushing your big toe inward, a bunion can squeeze your other toes into abnormal positions. This crowding can cause the four smaller toes to become bent or a claw-like in shape. These bent toes are known as hammertoes. Smaller bunions called ?bunionettes? can also develop on the joint of your 5th toe.
Women tend to suffer from bunions more often than men, probably because of the shoes they wear. But besides shoes, standing on the feet for long periods of time can also make symptoms of a bunion worse. Along with the bump, these bunion symptoms include pain or soreness, swelling, redness around the joint, a burning sensation or sometimes numbness. The big toe may develop calluses or not be able to move as well as it once did. Sores between the toes and ingrown toenails may also occur because of a bunion.
SymptomsMany people do not experience symptoms in the early stages of bunion formation. Symptoms are often most noticeable when the bunion gets worse and with certain types of footwear. These include shoes that crowd the toes and/or high-heeled shoes. When symptoms do occur, they may include physical discomfort or pain. A burning feeling. Redness and swelling. Possible numbness. Difficulty walking.
Your doctor is very likely to be able to diagnose your bunion simply by examining your foot. Even before that, he or she will probably ask about your family and personal medical history and evaluate the types of shoes you wear. You’ll be asked about your symptoms, when they started and when they occur. You may also be asked to flex your toe so that your doctor can get an idea of your range of motion. He or she may order x-rays in order to determine the extent of your deformity.
Non Surgical Treatment
Your doctor may recommend a prescription or over-the-counter pain reliever, as well as medication to relieve the swelling and inflammation. A heat pad or warm foot bath may also help relieve the immediate pain and discomfort. A few people may obtain relief with ice packs. If your bunion isn’t persistently painful and you take action early on, changing to well-made, well-fitting shoes may be all the treatment you need. Your doctor may advise use of orthoses (devices that are used to improve and realign the bones of your foot), including bunion pads, splints, or other shoe inserts, provided they don’t exert pressure elsewhere on the foot and aggravate other foot problems. In some cases, an orthotist (someone trained to provide splints, braces and special footwear to aid movement, correct deformity and relieve discomfort) can recommend shoes with specially designed insoles and uppers that take the pressure off affected joints and help the foot regain its proper shape.
If bunions are causing severe foot pain or inflammation and swelling that limits daily activities and doesn’t improve with rest, medication and comfortable shoes, surgery may be required. More than 100 surgical options are available for painful bunions. Some realign the foot’s anatomy by cutting notches from the metatarsal bone or the bone of the big toe. The bones can then grow back without the slant that promotes bunion growth. The operation is usually done on an outpatient basis, but afterward, you probably will have to stay off your feet for a few weeks. Recovery takes about six weeks. Surgery is not recommended for a bunion that doesn’t cause pain.
The best way to reduce your chances of developing bunions is to wear shoes that fit properly. Shoes that are too tight or have high heels can force your toes together. Bunions are rare in populations that don?t wear shoes. Make sure your shoes are the correct size and that there’s enough room to move your toes freely. It’s best to avoid wearing shoes with high heels or pointed toes.