A bunion is a firm, painful bump that forms over a bony bulge at the base of the big toe. In most cases, the big toe joint also is enlarged and has degenerative arthritis. The toe also may be pushed toward the second toe (hallux valgus). Bunions tend to be inherited, but they also are common in the following groups. Women who wear high heels. People who wear shoes that are too narrow or too pointed. People with flatfeet. All of these situations force the big toe to drift toward the little toes, and this can cause bunions to form.
Bunions tend to run in families, although it is the faulty foot mechanics that lead to bunions that are inherited, not the bunions themselves. Some authorities, in fact, suggest that the most significant factor in bunion formation is the poor foot mechanics passed down through families. However, the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society estimates that women have bunions nine times more often than men, that 88 percent of women in the United States wear shoes that are too small, and that 55 percent of women have bunions. Again, this reflects the wearing of shoes with tight, pointed toes, or with high heels that shift all of your body's weight onto your toes and also jam your toes into your shoes' toe boxes. It should be noted that it generally takes years of continued stress on the toes for bunions to develop.
Most patients complain of pain directly on the bunion area, within the big toe joint, and/or on the bottom of the foot. The bunion may become irritated, red, warm, swollen and/or callused. The pain may be dull and mild or severe and sharp. The size of the bunion doesn?t necessarily result in more pain. Pain is often made worse by shoes, especially shoes that crowd the toes. While some bunions may result in significant pain, other bunions may not be painful at all.
X-rays are the best way to determine the amount of deformity of the MTP joint. Blood work may be required to rule out other diseases that may be associated with bunions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Other tests such as bone scans or MRI's are not usually required.
Non Surgical Treatment
There are many treatment options for bunions and they will vary with the type and severity of each bunion and will also depend on what is causing the symptoms. Bunions are almost always progressive and tend to get larger and more painful with time, how fast this happens may be a function of the fit of the footwear. The initial goal of treatment options is to relieve pressure on the bunion and any symptoms that may be present and to halt or slow the progression of the joint deformity. There is no effective may be "get rid off" a bunion without surgery. There are a number of things that individuals and Podiatrists can do to help the symptoms and slow (if not halt) progression.