A bunion is a foot deformity where your big toe slants outward horizontally, pushing the tip of the big toe up against your little toes, and creating a characteristic sharp angle along the inside of your foot, at what?s called the first metatarsophalangeal joint-where your big toe connects to your foot. The reason for the deformity is an abnormal growth of bone, so it is not a condition that will correct itself naturally. Though bunions, or hallux valgus, as they are known in the medical community, are well-known among the general population for causing pain and discomfort, they can have a big impact on your running as well. Women?s marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe, for example, lost several months of running because of a bunion on her foot.
The main cause of bunions is excessive pressure being placed on the front of the foot, and is usually the result of wearing high-heeled shoes with pointed toes. A study by the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society found that 88 percent of women in the United States wear shoes that are too small and that 55 percent of them have bunions. Overall, bunions are nine times more common in women than men. In some cases, bunions are hereditary; they also may be caused by arthritis or polio.
Many people do not experience symptoms in the early stages of bunion formation. Symptoms are often most noticeable when the bunion gets worse and with certain types of footwear. These include shoes that crowd the toes and/or high-heeled shoes. When symptoms do occur, they may include physical discomfort or pain. A burning feeling. Redness and swelling. Possible numbness. Difficulty walking.
A simple visual exam is all it will take for your doctor to determine whether you have a bunion. He or she may also ask you to move your big toe in order to ascertain your range of motion. Your doctor may also look for any inflammation, redness, or pain. X-rays can help your doctor determine the severity and cause of the bunion. Your doctor may also ask you questions about your footwear, the symptoms you are experiencing, and if other family members also suffer from the condition. All these factors will help him or her diagnose you properly.
Non Surgical Treatment
Making sure that shoes don't press against the bunion worsening the pain is the first line of treatment. Protecting the bunion with felt or foam pads or devices to separate the first and second toes at night may be recommended as may cutting a hole in a pair of old, comfortable shoes to take the pressure off the bony protrusion. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be recommended to help relieve toe pain. In rare cases, physicians may administer injections of corticosteroids to treat the inflamed bursa (fluid-filled sac located in a joint) sometimes seen with bunions. Custom orthotic devices are another option that may be beneficial in some cases.
Conservative bunion treatment methods help to reduce the symptoms but they cannot undo changes in the bone to fully correct the condition. If the pain becomes severe and it starts to affect your daily life, then foot bunion surgery may be the best option to correct a hallux abducto valgus. There are a number of different surgical options, depending on the severity of the bony deformity. The two most common types of surgery are Osteotomy. This is the most common type pf surgery and involves removing part of the bony lump and realigning the toes. It is also known as a bunionectomy or exostectomy. The ligaments around the big toe may also need realigning and this will be done at the same time if necessary. Fusion.This is where the joint at the base of the big toe (metatarsophalangeal joint) is fused together, known as an arthrodesis. This is only indicated in severe cases or if other treatments have failed as it severely limits the movement of the big toe.
To minimize the chance of developing bunions, never force your feet into shoes that don?t fit. Choose a shoe that conforms to the shape of your foot. Opt for shoes with wider insteps, broad toes, and soft soles. Shoes that are short, tight, or sharply pointed should be avoided.