A bunion, also known as hallux valgus, is described as a bump on the side of the big toe. While it sounds like something minor, a bunion is much more than just a bump. The visible bump reflects changes in the bony framework of the front part of the foot causing the big toe to lean toward the second toe, rather than pointing straight ahead. This throws the bones out of alignment—producing the bunion’s bump.
A bunion is usually a symptom of inherited faulty foot mechanics, such as flat feet or low arches, which put abnormal stress on the front of the foot. Bunions may also be associated with different forms of arthritis. When cartilage protecting the joint starts to deteriorate, the joint can become damaged and be left with a decreased range of motion.
A common misconception about bunions is that wearing shoes that crowd the toes will cause them. This is false, but it could make it progressively worse causing symptoms to appear sooner. Pain can range from mild to more severe, which could make it hard to walk in normal shoes or heels. The skin and deeper tissue around the bunion may also become swollen or inflamed.
Conservative treatment for bunions includes using bunion pads, wearing comfortable shoes, sandals or athletic shoes, and avoiding high heels. These remedies can help reduce pressure on the bunion and keep it from progressing. If conservative treatment isn’t helping, surgery may be necessary. The type of procedure depends on the severity as well as age, general health, and activity level.
Sometimes bunions just need to be watched, however, to determine the best treatment for your bunion, schedule an appointment with our office for a full exam!