A bunion is an enlargement at the base of the big toe caused by a misalignment of the joint. Hallux valgus or hallux abducto valgus (HAV) is the name used for the deviated position. of the big toe and a bunion refers to the enlargement of the joint, most of the time the two go together and can just be referred to as ?bunions?. Bunions are really only a symptom of faulty foot mechanics and are usually caused by the foot we inherit and inappropriate footwear use. As the big toe bends towards the others this lump becomes larger and the bunion can become painful - arthritis and stiffness can eventually develop.
Many problems that occur in the feet are the result of abnormal pressure or rubbing. One way of understanding what happens in the foot due to abnormal pressure is to view the foot simply. Our simple model of a foot is made up of hard bone covered by soft tissue that we then put a shoe on top of. Most of the symptoms that develop over time are because the skin and soft tissue are caught between the hard bone on the inside and the hard shoe on the outside. Any prominence, or bump, in the bone will make the situation even worse over the bump. Skin responds to constant rubbing and pressure by forming a callus. The soft tissues underneath the skin respond to the constant pressure and rubbing by growing thicker. Both the thick callus and the thick soft tissues under the callus are irritated and painful. The answer to decreasing the pain is to remove the pressure. The pressure can be reduced from the outside by changing the pressure from the shoes. The pressure can be reduced from the inside by surgically removing any bony prominence.
While bunions may be considered cosmetically undesirable, they are not necessarily painful. In cases where the individual has minor discomfort that can be eased by wearing wider shoes made of soft leather and/or with the aid of spacers-padding placed between the toes to correct alignment-further treatment may not be necessary. (Anti-inflammatory agents can be used to alleviate temporary discomfort at the site of the bursa.) For those who continue to experience pain on a daily basis and who cannot wear most types of shoe comfortably, surgical treatment may be the best choice.
Diagnosis begins with a careful history and physical examination by your doctor. This will usually include a discussion about shoe wear and the importance of shoes in the development and treatment of the condition. X-rays will probably be suggested. This allows your doctor to measure several important angles made by the bones of the feet to help determine the appropriate treatment.
Non Surgical Treatment
There is a wide rage of treatment options for those who suffer from bunions. If the bunion is mild and does not require bunion surgery, resting the foot and avoiding excessive exercise or walking will help. Wearing shoes that have a wider toe opening, including sandals, can relieve the rubbing and irritation that comes along with more confining shoes. High-heeled shoes should be avoided as they push the big toe outward and can inflame the joint of a bunion. Anti-inflammatory medications (aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.) usually ease inflammation and target pain as well. If the bunion does become inflamed and irritated, application of an ice pack can reduce swelling and pain. If the inflammation because excessive, cortisone can be injected at the site of the bunion to reduce the swelling at the joint of the big toe.
The decision to have bunion surgery is personal and different everyone. While there are many reasons to have bunion surgery, the most common reasons include. Pain. Difficulty walking. Difficulty fitting shoes. Worsening bunion. Pain at the ball of the foot. Failed conservative measures. See Non-surgical Treatment. Some people have surgery simply because they don?t like the way the bunion looks. While some doctors may correct your bunion if it doesn?t hurt, you should be aware that permanent pain may occur after your surgery.