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Introduction - Bunions - A Problem With Your Big Toe
Your big toe is the hardest-working toe. Every time your foot pushes off the ground, this toe supports most of your body’s weight. Because this toe is so critical to movement, any problem with it can make walking or even standing painful. A bunion (excess or misaligned bone in the joint) is one of the most common toe problems. In addition to causing pain, a bunion changes the shape of your foot, making it harder to find shoes that fit. But you don’t have to hobble for the rest of your life. Bunions can be treated. With your doctor’s help, your feet can feel and look better.
A bunion is a bump on the base of the big toe joint. Bunions are caused when the bone at the joint moves and bends toward the other toes. The big toe may even overlap the others as this movement continues.
Bunions can cause severe pain because this big toe joint carries much of the body’s weight. Bunions run in families because of an inherited foot type that includes poor foot mechanics. Wearing tight or narrow shoes can aggravate the bunion. Those with flat feet or low arches are prone to bunions, as are people with arthritis or inflammatory joint disease.
Bunion symptoms may include:
- Callus or bump on the base of the big toe on the outside of the foot
- Pain, swelling or redness
- Callus development under the ball of the foot
- Developing hammertoes
- Irritated skin including corns where the first and second toes overlap
- Painful and restricted big toe motion
What Causes Bunions?
Types of Bunions
Positional (mild) bunions arise from the growth of new bone. Structural (severe) bunions result when the joint at the base of the toe shifts position. Many bunions are a combination of both types.
To relieve the discomfort of a bunion, apply a bunion pad around the bump. Wear wide shoes with a deep toe box. Avoid shoes with heels more than 2 inches tall. You can apply ice packs often during the day to reduce the inflammation.
However, bunions will not go away – in fact, they will get larger and more painful without treatment. The earlier that podiatric treatment begins, the greater chance that your pain may be resolved without surgery.
Our goals are to relieve the pressure on the bunion and slow its progression. Padding and taping can relieve pain and keep the foot in a normal position. Cortisone injections and anti-inflammatory medication can ease symptoms.
Custom-fitted orthotics can relieve symptoms and prevent worsening of the deformity. Physical therapy and ultrasound therapy can also relieve inflammation and pain.
For severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the joint and relieve pressure.