A bunion is a bony protuberance that appears on the external surface of especially the big toe, making the toe angle toward the adjacent toe. It is an extra bone and a fluid-filled sac that grows at the base of the big toe.
Causes of bunions
Bunions are common in women and have a tendency to run in families (heredity). The major cause of bunions is prolonged wearing of ill-fitting shoes that are tight, narrow, and high-heeled, which compress the toes and exerts excessive pressure while walking. The condition worsens and gets more painful as the bump grows bigger in size. Certain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis may also cause bunions.
- Pain and tenderness
- Shift of the affected toe towards the adjacent toe
- Change in the shape of the foot
- A bony mass at the joint surface of the big toe
- Restricted movements of the big toe
Your orthopaedic surgeon diagnoses a bunion based on the following:
- Medical history to rule out any diabetic conditions, hypertension, circulatory disorders
- Physical examination to evaluate the nature of the bunion
- Foot or ankle X-rays to determine the bone and soft tissue damage
A bunion may be treated either by non-surgical or surgical methods. The non-surgical treatment options include:
- Medications to help alleviate pain and associated symptoms
- Cortisone injections
- Ice packs to reduce inflammation
- Wearing broad-toed shoes that fit properly to reduce the compression of the toes
- Use of bunion pads, cushions and splints to protect and alleviate painful foot bunions
- Selecting properly fitting shoes that match the shape of your feet
The surgical method of removal or excision of a bunion is known as bunionectomy. The goal of bunion surgery is to relieve pain and restore the normal position and function of the big toe.
Some of the surgical complications include infection, blood clot formation, recurrence of the bunion, damage to nerves, bleeding, and unrelieved pain.
Always try to take care of the bunion at the initial stage by wearing accommodative shoes. In very few cases, post-surgical complications may interrupt the healing of the bunion. If left untreated it may cause bursitis, gait abnormalities, arthritis and other serious health problems.
Avoid wearing poorly fitted shoes to prevent irritation and compression of the toes which may lead to the growth of a bunion.