Bunions are usually genetic or caused by other conditions that make you walk on the inside of your foot, causing the big toe to go toward the second toe, then pushing out the bone behind the big toe bone (first metatarsal) and increasing the angle between the first and second metatarsals. This will lead to pain from the head of the protruding first metatarsal bone, and arthritis from the incongruity of the big toe joint. We offer methods to prevent bunion worsening as well as conservative and surgical options to correct for a painful bunion.
A bunion is often easily identified because of the large bony protrusion that appears on the side of the big toe.The skin on top of the bone may look red and and can become painful due to the friction the toes experience from shoes. Bunions can be caused by conditions such as arthritis or an abnormal foot structure that may possibly be inherited. The condition can also be made worse by wearing shoes that fit poorly. If you suffer from this ailment, it’s recommended to wear wider shoes to accommodate the affected toe. A more permanent solution would be surgery, in which the bunion is removed and bones may be broken, moved or fused. If you have this condition, please consult with us for additional information and to determine the best treatment option for you.
What Is a Bunion?
A bunion is formed of abnormal bone angle or an enlargement of boney growth, usually located at the base joint of the toe that connects to the foot. The swelling occurs due to the bones in the big toe shifting inward, which impacts the other toes of the foot. This causes the area around the base of the big toe to become inflamed and painful.
Why Do Bunions Form?
Genetics – Susceptibility to bunions are often hereditary
Stress on the feet – Poorly fitted and uncomfortable footwear that places stress on feet, such as heels, can worsen existing bunions
How Are Bunions Diagnosed?
Doctors often perform two tests – blood tests and x-rays – when trying to diagnose bunions, especially in the early stages of development. Blood tests help determine if the foot pain is being caused by something else, such as arthritis, while x-rays provide a clear picture of your bone structure to your doctor.
How Are Bunions Treated?
- Refrain from wearing heels or similar shoes that cause discomfort
- Select wider shoes that can provide more comfort and reduce pain
- Anti-inflammatory and pain management drugs
- Orthotics or foot inserts
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office located in Seattle, Washington. We tried and true treatment technologies for all your foot care needs.
A bunion is an enlargement of the base joint of the toe that connects to the foot, often formed from a bony growth or an abnormal angulation of the first metatarsal bone. It is caused by the inward shifting of the bones in the big toe, toward the other toes of the foot. This shift can cause a serious amount of pain and discomfort. The area around the big toe can become inflamed, red, and painful.
Bunions are most commonly formed in people who are already genetically predisposed to them or other kinds of bone displacements. Existing bunions can be worsened by wearing improperly fitting shoes. Trying to cram your feet into high heels or running or walking in a way that causes too much stress on the feet can exacerbate bunion development. High heels not only push the big toe inward, but shift one’s body weight and center of gravity towards the edge of the feet and toes, expediting bone displacement.
A podiatrist knowledgeable in foot structure and biomechanics will be able to quickly diagnose bunions. Bunions must be distinguished from gout or arthritic conditions, so blood tests may be necessary. The podiatrist may order a radiological exam to provide an image of the bone structure. If the x-ray demonstrates an enlargement of the joint near the base of the toe and a shifting toward the smaller toes, this is indicative of a bunion.
Wearing wider shoes can reduce pressure on the bunion and minimize pain, and high heeled shoes should be eliminated for a period of time. This may be enough to eliminate the pain associated with bunions; however, if pain persists, anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed. Severe pain may require an injection of steroids near the bunion. Orthotics for shoes may be prescribed which, by altering the pressure on the foot, can be helpful in reducing pain. These do not correct the problem; but by eliminating the pain, they can provide relief.
For cases that do not respond to these methods of treatment, surgery can be done to reposition the toe. A surgeon may do this by taking out a section of bone, moving or fusing bone, or by rearranging the ligaments and tendons in the toe to help keep it properly aligned. It may be necessary even after surgery to wear more comfortable shoes that avoid placing pressure on the toe, as the big toe may move back to its former orientation toward the smaller toes.