Bunions – Diagnosis, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What is Bunions?

Bunions are bumps on the side of the big toe and indicate changes in the bony framework of the front part of the foot. In the case of a bunion, the big toe leans toward the second toe, rather than pointing straight ahead. This causes the bones to be thrown out of alignment,producing the bunion’s “bump”.

It is also known as “Hallux Valgus” , a condition where the big toe is angled excessively towards the second toe.

Appearance of Bunions

There is pressure from the big toe joint which causes deformity in the joint of the second toe, pushing it toward the third toe and so on. If the second toe and the big toe cross over, it becomes difficult to walk. Once the big toe leans towards the second toe, the tendons no longer pull the toe in a straight line, the problem gradually gets worse. This also causes Corns and calluses.

Symptoms of Bunions

  • Pain in the area where the problem occurs while walking or wearing shoes, which relieved by rest
  • Enlargement of the big toe and positioning of the big toe toward the smaller toes
  • Chronic pain at the base of the big toe
  • Swelling of the soft tissues, redness and local tenderness
  • A bulging bump on the outside of the base of the big toe.
  • Thickeneing of skin at the base of the big toe
  • Restricted movement of the big toe
  • Difficult to walk in normal shoes

Causes of Bunions

  • Bunions are formed when the normal balance of forces exerted on the joints and tendons of your feet are disrupted.
  • abnormal motion and pressure on the big toe joint
  • Hereditary factors, like style of walking
  • improper shoes-tight fitting shoes
  • foot injuries
  • deformities present at birth
  • neuromuscular disorders, such as cerebral palsy or post-polio syndrome (post-poliomyelitis)
  • arthritis
  • Extra stress on the feet, like waiters, dancers, factory workers etc.
  • repetitive strain injury- walking on the same ground level for a long time.

Treatment of Bunions

Excercises are recommended. Orthoses ( special devices inserted into shoes), shoe alterations or night splints can slow the progression of bunions among children. These corrective measures may relieve a person of his symptoms Anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin,ibuprofen and naproxen can help ease the inflammation as well as the pain.

Local cold pack application is also useful at times. A bunion splint worn at night can provide relief also. Inflammation of the joint at the base of the big toe can be relieved by a local injection of cortisone.

One can go to the podiatric surgeon who can remove the bunion and realign the toe joint in an operation known as bunionectomy. The aim of the surgery is to remove the bunion effectively and prevent it from growing again.

Bunions affect the feet making it difficult to walk. Although they could result due to hereditary factors they do develop in course of time and need to be treated effectively.