A bunion develops when the joint at the base of the big toe becomes swollen and most likely painful. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons suggests these ways to ease bunion pain. Make sure shoes fit properly and comfortably, and mold to the shape of your feet. Opt for shoes with a soft sole, wide toe box and wide instep. Avoid heels of more than 2 1/4 inches, those that are too tight, and shoes with pointy, narrow toes. To accommodate a bunion, wear shoes that are a bit big, or have your shoes professionally stretched. Place a protective cushioned pad over the bunion.
It is thought that the primary cause of bunions is a mechanical instability in the big toe joint. There are a number of different reasons as to why this may happen. Bunions tend to run in families so a person with a family history of bunions has an increased risk of developing them. Factors that are known to increase the risk of bunions include wearing improperly fitting shoes (particularly narrow and/or high-heeled shoes). Certain arthritic conditions and ligament disorders. Age (the incidence of bunions increases with age). Being flatfooted with feet that roll inwards (over pronation). Past injury (trauma) to the foot. Nerve conditions affecting the foot. Bunions most commonly affect women (approximately 90% of cases) and are less common in people who do not regularly wear shoes.
SymptomsThe dominant symptom of a bunion is a big bulging bump on the inside of the base of the big toe. Other symptoms include swelling, soreness and redness around the big toe joint, a tough callus at the bottom of the big toe and persistent or intermittent pain.
Generally, observation is adequate to diagnose a bunion, as the bump is obvious on the side of the foot or base of the big toe. However, your physician may order X-rays that will show the extent of the deformity of the foot.
Non Surgical Treatment
Many people with bunions are quite comfortable if they wear wide, well fitting shoes and give them time to adapt to the shape of their feet. A small pad over the bony prominence, which can be bought from a chemist or chiropodist, can take the pressure of the shoe off the bunion. High heels tend to squeeze the foot into the front of the shoe and should be avoided. It is often worthwhile seeing a chiropodist if these simple measures are not quite enough.
There are a number of different surgical procedures used to treat bunions. The type of surgery recommended for you will depend on the severity of the deformity. Your surgeon may use pins, wires or screws to hold the bones in place while they heal. Depending on the type of surgery you have, these may be left in your foot or removed later on. Some of the surgical procedures for bunions are described below. Osteotomy is the most commonly used and proven type of bunion surgery. Although there are many different types of osteotomy, they generally involve cutting and removing part of the bone in your toe. During the procedure, your surgeon will remove the bony lump and realign the bones inside your big toe. They'll also move your toe joint back in line, which may involve removing other pieces of bone, possibly from the neighbouring toes. A procedure called distal soft tissue realignment may be combined with an osteotomy. This involves altering the tissue in your foot to help correct the deformity and improve the stability and appearance of the foot.
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