A bunion is a problem with your big toe. On the outside, a bunion looks like a bump on the side of the toe. But this bump is actually the result of an abnormality of the foot bones. Your big toe leans toward your second toe instead of being straight. This angle produces the bump of the bunion. In some cases, the bump is painless. Over time, however, a bunion will cause the toes to crowd together, resulting in pain and the possibility of permanent deformity.
Bunions are generally thought to be genetic. They occur because of faulty foot structure, which is inherited. Some conditions that contribute to the development of bunions include flat feet, excessively flexible ligaments, and abnormal bone structure. Some experts believe shoes that do not fit properly cause bunions, but others think shoes only worsen an existing structure problem.
Bunions usually become worse over time. The following can aggravate bunions:
In addition to the bump, signs and symptoms of a bunion may include:
The pain associated with a bunion might make it difficult to walk. See your physician if you experience:
In most cases, a physician can diagnose a bunion through visible inspection since many of the signs are outwardly present. During a physical exam, your doctor may ask you to move your toe back and forth to check for limited movement. If an injury or deformity is suspected, the doctor will order an X-ray for further examination. An X-ray can detail the severity of the bunion and pinpoint its cause. A blood test might also be necessary to rule out arthritis as a cause.
Bunions treatments include nonsurgical and surgical options.
If nonsurgical options do not provide sufficient help, surgery might be necessary. Many surgical procedures are used to treat bunions. Your doctor will recommend the best procedure for your situation. However, most surgeries to correct bunions include a bunionectomy.
A bunionectomy involves:
Full recovery from a bunionectomy can take up to eight weeks though, in most cases, youll be able to walk on your foot immediately following the procedure.
An untreated bunion can cause irritation to the fluid filled sac used to cushion the joint, called the bursa. This causes the bursa to become inflamed and swollen, which causes pain and tenderness and may lead to limited movement of the joints nearby. This condition is called bursitis.
Additional complications of bunions include:
Contact your physician immediately if you experience these symptoms and also have diabetes or any signs of infection.
Wearing shoes that fit properly is an effective way to prevent bunion development. A properly fitting shoe should have plenty of room around your toes and should conform to the shape of your foot.