What Is a Bunion?
Bunions are often described as a bump on the side of the big toe. But a bunion is more than that. The visible bump actually reflects changes in the bony framework of the front part of the foot. With a bunion, the big toe leans toward the second toe, rather than pointing straight ahead. This throws the bones out of alignment producing the bunion’s “bump.” Bunions are a progressive disorder
What Causes a Bunion?
Bunions are most often caused by an inherited faulty mechanical structure of the foot. It is not the bunion itself that is inherited, but certain foot types that make a person prone to developing a bunion.
Symptoms, which occur at the site of the bunion, may include:
Pain or soreness
Inflammation and redness
A burning sensation
Perhaps some numbness
Other conditions which may appear with bunions include calluses on the big toe, sores between the toes, ingrown toenail, and restricted motion of the toe.
Diagnosis Bunions are readily apparentyou can see the prominence at the base of the big toe or side of the foot. However, to fully evaluate your condition, the podiatric foot and ankle surgeon may take x-rays to determine the degree of the deformity and assess the changes that have occurred. Because bunions are progressive, they don’t go away, and will usually get worse over time. But not all cases are alikesome bunions progress more rapidly than others. Once your podiatric surgeon has evaluated your particular case, a treatment plan can be developed that is suited to your needs.
Treatment Sometimes observation of the bunion is all that’s needed. A periodic office evaluation and x-ray examination can determine if your bunion deformity is advancing, thereby reducing your chance of irreversible damage to the joint. In many other cases, however, some type of treatment is needed. Early treatments are aimed at easing the pain of bunions, but they won’t reverse the deformity itself. These options include:
Changes in shoe wear
When Is Surgery Needed?
When the pain of a bunion interferes with daily activities, it’s time to discuss surgical options with your podiatric surgeon. Together you can decide if surgery is best for you. Recent advances in surgical techniques have led to a very high success rate in treating bunions. A variety of surgical procedures are performed to treat bunions. The procedures are designed to remove the “bump” of bone, correct the changes in the bony structure of the foot, as well as correct soft tissue changes that may also have occurred.