If you?ve developed a solid bump at the base of your big toe along with pain and swelling, it?s possible that you have a bunion. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) A bunion is an enlargement of the joint at the base of the big toe-the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint, that forms when the bone or tissue at the big toe joint moves out of place. This forces the toe to bend toward the others, causing an often painful lump of bone on the foot. Since this joint carries a lot of the body?s weight while walking, bunions can cause extreme pain if left untreated. The MTP joint itself may become stiff and sore, making even the wearing of shoes difficult or impossible. Bunions, from the Latin ?bunio,? meaning enlargement, can also occur on the outside of the foot along the little toe, where it is called a ?bunionette? or ?tailor?s bunion.?
Wearing footwear that is too tight or causing the toes to be squeezed together are the most commonly blamed factor for the cause of bunions and hallux valgus and is undoubtedly the main contributing factor. This probably is the reason for the higher prevalence of bunions among women. However, studies of some indigenous populations that never wear footwear, show that they also get bunions but they are very uncommon. As they do get bunions, factors other than footwear must play a role in the cause, even though footwear is the main culprit for providing the pressure that causes the symptoms.
Bunions may or may not cause symptoms. A frequent symptom is foot pain in the involved area when walking or wearing shoes; rest relieves this pain. A bunion causes enlargement of the base of the big toe and is usually associated with positioning of the big toe toward the smaller toes. Shoe pressure in this area can cause interment pain while the development of arthritis in more severe bunions can lead to chronic pain. Bunions that cause marked pain are often associated with swelling of the soft tissues, redness, and local tenderness. It is important to note that, in postpubertal men and postmenopausal women, pain at the base of the big toe can be caused by gout and gouty arthritis that is similar to the pain caused by bunions.
Orthopaedic surgeons diagnose bunions on the basis of physical examination and weight bearing x-rays. Two angles are assessed, the intermetatarsal angle, that is between the first and second metatarsals (the bones that lead up to the base of the toes). If this angle exceeds 9? (the angle found in the healthy foot) it is abnormal and referred to as metatarsus primus varus. the hallux valgus angle, that is, the angle of the big toe as it drifts toward the small toe. An angle that exceeds 15? is considered to be a sign of pathology.
Non Surgical Treatment
Nonsurgical treatments such as rest and wearing loose (wider) shoes or sandals can often relieve the irritating pain of bunions. Walking shoes may have some advantages, for example, over high-heeled styles that pressure the sides of the foot. Anti-inflammatory medications, such as acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin, Ecotrin), ibuprofen (Advil, Children's Advil/Motrin, Medipren, Motrin, Nuprin, PediaCare Fever) and naproxen (Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn, Aleve), can help to ease inflammation as well as pain. Local cold-pack application is sometimes helpful as well. To reduce tension on the inner part of the joint of a bunion, stretching exercises are sometimes prescribed. Depending on the structure of the foot and severity of the bunion, custom insole orthotics can slow the progression of the bunion and address underlying biomechanical causes. Inflammation of the joint at the base of the big toe can often be relieved by a local injection of cortisone. Any signs of skin breakdown or infection can require antibiotics. When the measures above are effective in relieving symptoms, patients should avoid irritating the bunion again by optimizing footwear and foot care.
Some sufferers choose to have the bunion surgically removed. This should always be a last resort as all surgeries carry risks. There are several types of surgical procedures to remove bunions and before deciding, you should speak to your surgeon at length about the facts and risks associated with surgery, including the recovery time and success rate of the operation to be done. Please note that if you have a surgical procedure and then return to your high heels and narrow-toed shoes, the bunion is likely to reoccur.
A lot of bunion deformities are hereditary so there isn't much you can do to fully prevent them. Early detection and treatment will go a long way in preventing the growth of the bunion and foot pain. Often times, a good custom orthotic can be very effective in slowing the progression of a bunion, but a podiatrist provides that. Waiting with bunions will worsen the condition and could lead to further complications such as hammertoes or contracted toes. Besides causing deformity, these secondary conditions can eventually cause issues with walking and affect your knees, hip, lower back. There are no lotions over the counter that would be able to actually treat the problem. There are some bunion shields that you can place on the bump to ease symptoms and pressure from shoes. However because this condition is an actual bone deformity, the over the counter option solutions are more like a Band-aid approach.