Bunions (Hallux Valgus)
What is a Bunion
A bunion, known medically as hallux valgus, is known as a bump on the side of the big toe. But a bunion is not just a bump, it is actually a change in the shape of the bone framework in the front part of the foot. The big toe pushes against the second toe and causes the base of the big toe to push out creating the bump look.
Bunions are progressive, they form gradually over a lot of time, months and years. The big toe slowly starts to push against the second toe and gets more and more severe. Eventually, the bump will become increasingly prominent. Symptoms appear in the later stages but sometimes never appear at all.
Bunions are generally an inherited feature of a fault in the structure of the foot. The bunion itself is not inherited but a certain foot type may cause you to be more prone to developing a bunion.
Wearing narrow-toed shoes will not cause a bunion alone. But if you are already genetically predisposed to developing a bunion then wearing such shoes can speed up the process of development of a bunion.
Symptoms may occur at the site of the bunion. These symptoms include:
Pain or soreness
Inflammation and redness
A burning sensation
Symptoms of bunions can be aggravated by wearing shoes that crowd the toes such as heels, this is why women are often more likely to experience symptoms than men. A lot of stress on the foot can be symptom causing, standing for long periods of time may cause symptoms to occur.
Bunions are easily distinguishable - the bumpy nature of it makes it easy to diagnose. But a bunion, needs to be fully evaluated to determine the severity of the condition. An x-ray may be used to assess the degree to which the bunion has progressed and if any other conditions are occurring with it.
Each bunion will progress differently. Your podiatric surgeon will evaluate the bunion and determine the best course for treatment.
In early cases, the bunion will be treated to ease the pain, but the treatment will not reverse or stop the progression of the deformity. These treatments include:
Changing shoewear - wearing the proper shoes can change everything, choosing shoes with a wide toe box is the best option.
Padding - pads may be used on the bunion to minimize pain.
Medications - NSAIDs such as ibuprofen may be used to reduce pain and inflammation
Injection Therapy - Not often used for bunions, but injecting corticosteroids can be useful in treating an inflamed bursa, sometimes seen with bunions
Icing - Icing the bunion several times a day can reduce pain and inflammation
Orthotic Devices - custom orthotics may be provided by the podiatrist to fit your foot's special unique shape
Activity modifications - avoid activities which cause pain and avoid standing for long periods of time.
When nonsurgical treatments fail to relieve the pain of the bunion surgery may be necessary.
There are many surgical procedures which are used to treat bunions. Procedures are designed to remove the bump of the bone, correct changes in the bony structure while also correcting soft tissue changes that may have occured with the progression of the bunion. The goal of surgery is to reduce pain and the deformity.
Many factors will go into account when choosing the right procedure for you. An x-ray will be used to determine the extent of the deformity and the age, activity level and several other factors will be used to determine the proper surgery for you. The recovery period can vary but is often fairly long considering the foot needs to heel before being stressed.