Overview

A bunion is a bony lump or deformity at the joint of the base of the big toe. A bunion can occur when the joint at the base of the big toe becomes deformed and develops at a sideways angle, pushing the big toe inwards towards your other toes and sometimes displacing the long bones (the Metatarsals) in the forefoot. This condition is one of the most common seen by podiatrists.

Bunion sufferers will find it difficult to walk without pain. Thickening of the skin and tissues also occurs next to the base joint of the big toe and further contributes to the discomfort. A bunion will not go away of its own accord and will get worse over time, in some cases leading to permanent deformation and disability.

Causes

Although it can be difficult to determine the exact cause of a bunion, it is thought that certain hereditary foot types contribute to a large number of cases. These foot types have a faulty mechanical structure or characteristic making the person more likely to develop a bunion.

Other contributing factors include conditions affecting the joints such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Symptoms

Not all bunions are painful however some people may notice pain around the base of their big toe and increased pain when walking or running. The area may become inflamed, swollen and painful to touch, with a lump of thickened and inflamed skin often appearing around the affected joint. The big toe will start to angle inwards towards your other toes – this can affect the second toe and cause it to become displaced also. Over time the foot may become too wide to fit into regular footwear. Therefore, people with bunions are prone to developing painful corns and skin irritations from rubbing footwear. Arthritis of the big toe may also develop as a result.

Diagnosis

Podiatrists at Dan Everson Podiatry can diagnose a bunion through a physical examination of the foot.

Treatment

There are several ways Dan Everson Podiatry recommends treating a bunion:

  • Wearing appropriate and well-fitted footwear is essential to avoid further aggravating the condition. Roomy shoes will help to avoid rubbing of the bunion when you walk or run. Closed shoes, high heels and pointed shoes should be avoided.
  • Following diagnosis, we may prescribe Kinetic Orthotics to insert into your footwear to help straighten the affected toes and treat other contributing factors.
  • Placing padding over the bunion will help to cushion it and prevent further rubbing or impact on it.
  • Applying ice to the affected area during rest periods.
  • Using pain-relief medication.

Prevention

If you think you may be at risk of developing bunions, we recommend seeing your podiatrist for advice on the best footwear for you.

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