Bunions, also called Hallux valgus, are protrusions that occur at the joint at the base of the big toe. These protrusions develop over a long period of time, as pressure on the big toe pushes it in towards the second toe. With time, this pressure will cause the structure of the bone to change thus producing the bunion.
When the bones that connect at the joint of the big toe become out of line, the joint gets larger and begins to protrude from the inside of the forefoot. This deformity often becomes inflamed and can continue to grow, becoming painful and making it difficult to walk and wear shoes.
Bunions are often caused by wearing narrow, tight-fitting shoes, especially ones with a pointed toe box. Because of this, bunions are more commonly found in women than in men.
It is also possible to inherit feet that are more prone to developing bunions. Inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and neuromuscular conditions such as polio can also increase the likelihood of developing a bunion.
Aside from the bump that develops at the joint of your big toe bunions can also cause:
- A red and swollen joint
- Hard skin on the base of the foot
- Difficulty walking because of lack of mobility of the big toe
- Discomfort and soreness
- The development of a callus or corn on the bump
When you see one of our foot specialists at Beacon, they will perform a careful examination of your foot and then order an x-ray in order to check the alignment of your toes. Using the x-rays your doctor will come up with the best plan to treat your bunion.
As long as you catch your bunion early enough, it is likely that you will not need surgery. Though it is impossible to get rid of a bunion without surgery, there are a number of steps you can take to reduce pain and make sure the bunion does not get worse. Some of these strategies include:
- Wearing properly fitting shoes that do not compress the toes
- Cushioning the bunion with a protective “bunion-shield” pad
- Placing orthotics or toe spacers in your shoes
- Using a toe splint at night
- Icing the bunion to reduce swelling
- Taking anti-inflammatory medication
If you continue to experience pain and difficulty walking after trying these non-surgical treatments, your doctor may recommend surgery. During surgery, your doctor will realign bones, ligaments, nerves, and tendons so that the big toe can be brought back to its original position.
Waiting too long to treat your bunion can result in the worsening of pain and potentially the need to get surgery. If you have been experiencing foot pain that you think may be related to a bunion you should schedule an appointment with one of Beacon’s foot specialists as soon as possible.Book an Appointment
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