What is a Bunion?
A bunion (hallux abducto valgus) is a bump on the side of the foot near the big toe joint. In affected individuals, this bump tends to progress over time, causing the first toe to begin to lean towards the second, resulting in even greater deformity. The “bump” itself is caused by the bone leading up to the big toe (first metatarsal) shifting over time.
Bunions are most often caused by an inherited foot type that is somewhat predisposed to bunion formation. Improper footwear may speed the progression of the deformity as well.
Many people have mild/moderate bunions, and suffer no symptoms at all. However, should symptoms occur, they usually involve pain, inflammation, swelling, and possible burning/numb sensations in the area of the bump itself.
Symptoms occur most often when wearing shoes that crowd the toes, such as shoes with a tight toe box or high heels. This may explain why women are more likely to have symptoms than men. In addition, spending long periods of time on your feet can aggravate the symptoms of bunions.
Bunions are usually fairly obvious, however further investigation is usually necessary to ascertain the degree of deformity, underlying foot conditions that may have contributed to the formation of the bunion, as well as potential arthritis in the big toe joint itself.
Bunion deformities usually progress over time, though sometimes very slowly.
Treatment options for bunions include simple observation of a painless bump, X-rays to evaluate the big toe joint, custom made foot orthotics, icing, anti-inflammatory medication, padding, shoe changes, activity modification, and occasionally injections of steroid.
Surgery is typically discussed if all non-surgical treatment options have failed to relieve the pain associated with the bunion itself. Your doctor will discuss surgical options with you, which usually involve either either shaving off a small part of the bone at the area of the bunion, or repositioning of the bone itself so that it does not protrude any longer. X ray findings, activity level, and age all factor in the decision making process, and recovery time is usually dependent on the surgical procedure performed.