A bunion is a bony bump on the outside of the joint at the base of the big toe. It is essentially a deformity of the joint connecting the big toe to the rest of the foot. The most usual cause of a bunion is sustained pressure on the bones in the front part of the patient’s foot. This pressure then forces the bones to move or pushes them out of place. As a result, the tip of your big toe is pulled toward the other smaller toes. Additionally, the joint at the base of the big toe starts to protrude outwards. The patient may also experience pain, and the skin over the bunion may be sore and red. Treatment of a bunion may involve the use of a splint or corrector or, if unsuccessful, surgical removal.
What Causes Bunions?
A bunion is usually caused by long term pressure to the outside of the big toe, forcing it inwards towards (and in extreme cases, over) the other toes of the foot. This pressure can come from the excessive use of pointed shoes or shoes with high heels.
Other potential causes are the presence of rheumatoid arthritis or a family history of the condition.
The key symptom is the appearance of the bony bump on the outside of the big toe that we have mentioned above. The patient may also experience continual pain in the region of the bunion or generally at the front of the foot.
In addition to these symptoms, patients may report a decrease in the range of movement of the big toe. Corns and/or calluses may appear between the first and second toes due to the excessive pressure between them.
As with most conditions of this type, the best treatment for a bunion is prevention. To help prevent the onset of this condition, wear shoes with a wide toe box. Avoid shoes with pointed heels. They may be fashionable, but the pressure they impose on your toes can increase the risk of bunion development over time.
A bunion corrector or splint can also be worn to push the big toe back into proper alignment over time.
If the above measures do not work, your doctor may suggest a bunionectomy. This is a procedure that involves the surgical removal of the bunion.