Bunions form when the normal balance of forces that is exerted on the joints and foot?s tendons becomes disrupted-leading to foot deformity. They are brought about by years of abnormal motion and pressure over the MTP joint. It is acknowledged that bunions run in families. One theory advanced by Dr. Burton S. Schuler, a practicing podiatrist for over 38 years, Director of the Ambulatory Foot Clinic in Panama City, Florida, and author of Why You Really Hurt. It All Stars in the Foot, is that it is not necessarily bunions that are inherited but toe length, which can lead to the development of bunions.
The exact cause of bunions is unknown, but they tend to run in families. Wearing badly fitting shoes is thought to make bunions worse. It's also thought that bunions are more likely to occur in people with unusually flexible joints, which is why bunions sometimes occur in children. In some cases, certain health conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout, may also be responsible.
SymptomsBunions starts as the big toe begins to deviate, developing a firm bump on the inside edge of the foot, at the base of the big toe. Initially, at this stage the bunion may not be painful. Later as the toes deviate more the bunion can become painful, there may be redness, some swelling, or pain at or near the joint. The pain is most commonly due to two things, it can be from the pressure of the footwear on the bunion or it can be due to an arthritis like pain from the pressure inside the joint. The motion of the joint may be restricted or painful. A hammer toe of the second toe is common with bunions. Corns and calluses can develop on the bunion, the big toe and the second toe due to the alterations in pressure from the footwear. The pressure from the great toe on the other toes can also cause corns to develop on the outside of the little toe or between the toes. The change in pressure on the toe may predispose to an ingrown nail.
A doctor can very often diagnose a bunion by looking at it. A foot x-ray can show an abnormal angle between the big toe and the foot. In some cases, arthritis may also be seen.
Non Surgical Treatment
The non-invasive treatments for bunions are many and include changes in footwear, icing the sore area, over the counter pain medications, orthotic shoe inserts, and weight management. If these conservative measures fail to arrest your pain and discomfort, your foot and ankle surgeon may recommend a bunionectomy or similar surgical procedure, depending on your condition.
Bunion surgery is both an art and a science, and it should always be performed by a healthcare professional who understands the multifaceted mechanics of your first MTP and its surrounding structures. Bunion surgery involves more than just removing the bump at the base of your big toe, and it is best followed up with supportive therapies to prevent a recurrence of your health problem.