The term ?bunion,? as it is popularly used, describes a variety of deformities involving a painful prominence and swelling at the base of the big toe. Orthopaedists use additional terms to describe the different deformities. The condition in which the big toe deviates from the normal position toward the direction of the second toe is referred to as hallux valgus. Dorsal bunions are a different variety in which the prominence appears on the top of the base of the toe, often the result of an arthritic joint.
Abnormality in foot function, particularly a pronated foot. This is probably the most important and common causative factor. Family history of bunions. Narrow toed dress shoes and high heels may contribute to the formation of a bunion. Rheumatoid and Psoriatic arthritis. Genetic and neuromuscular disease (eg. Down's,Ehler-Danlos and Marfan's syndromes) resulting in muscle imbalance. Limb length inequality can cause a bunion on the longer limb. Generalized laxity of the ligaments. Trauma to or surgery on the soft tissue structures around the great toe (first metatarsal-phalangeal) joint.
Pain or soreness. Inflamattion and redness. A burning sensation. Numbness on the side of the great toe. Other conditions which may occur secondary to bunions include calluses on the big toe, sore between the toes, ingrown toenails, and stiffness of the joint where the great toe attaches to the foot.
Your doctor will ask questions about your past health and carefully examine your toe and joint. Some of the questions might be: When did the bunions start? What activities or shoes make your bunions worse? Do any other joints hurt? The doctor will examine your toe and joint and check their range of motion. This is done while you are sitting and while you are standing so that the doctor can see the toe and joint at rest and while bearing weight. X-rays are often used to check for bone problems or to rule out other causes of pain and swelling. Other tests, such as blood tests or arthrocentesis (removal of fluid from a joint for testing), are sometimes done to check for other problems that can cause joint pain and swelling. These problems might include gout , rheumatoid arthritis , or joint infection.
Non Surgical Treatment
You can buy orthotics over the counter from pharmacies, or they can be custom-made by a podiatrist to fit your feet. Whether you need to buy an over-the-counter orthotic or have one specially made will depend on your individual circumstances and the severity of your bunion. You can also use special bunion splints, worn over the top of your foot and your big toe to help straighten its alignment. Splints are available for both daytime and night-time use. However, there's little evidence that splints are effective. Toe spacers are also available, which can help reduce the pain caused by bunions. However, toe spacers or orthotics may be of limited use because they often compete with the bunion for the already limited space in the shoe. If your toe joint is painful and swollen, applying an ice pack to the affected area several times a day can help to relieve the pain and inflammation. Never apply ice directly to your skin. Wrap it in a cloth or tea towel. A bag of frozen vegetables makes a good ice pack. It's recommended that you wear flat or low-heeled, wide-fitting shoes if you have a bunion. Shoes made from soft leather are ideal because they'll relieve any pressure on the bunion. Avoid narrow or slip-on shoes. High heels can also make your bunion worse by putting excessive pressure on your toes.
When early treatments fail or the bunion progresses past the threshold for such options, podiatric surgery may become necessary to relieve pressure and repair the toe joint. Several surgical procedures are available to the podiatrist. The surgery will remove the bony enlargement, restore the normal alignment of the toe joint, and relieve pain. A simple bunionectomy, in which only the bony prominence is removed, may be used for the less severe deformity. Severe bunions may require a more involved procedure, which includes cutting the bone and realigning the joint. Recuperation takes time, and swelling and some discomfort are common for several weeks following surgery. Pain, however, is easily managed with medications prescribed by your podiatrist.