What is a Bunion?
A bunion, also known as hallux valgus, is a bony protuberance that appears on the outer surface of the big toe when it angles toward the adjacent toe. It is an extra bone and a fluid-filled sac that grows at the base of the big toe.
What are the Common Causes of Bunions?
Bunions are common in women and tend to run in families (heredity). The major cause of bunions is prolonged wearing of ill-fitting shoes such as tight, narrow, and high-heeled shoes that compress the toes and exert excessive pressure while walking. The condition becomes worse and more painful as the bump grows bigger in size. Certain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout may also cause bunions.
What are the Symptoms of Bunions?
The most common symptoms of bunions include:
- Pain and tenderness around the big toe
- Turning of the big toe towards the adjacent toe
- Change in the shape of the foot
- A bony mass at the joint surface of the big toe
- Pain and discomfort while walking
- Restricted movements of the big toe
How are Bunions Diagnosed?
Your orthopedic surgeon diagnoses a bunion based on the following:
- Medical history to rule out diabetes, hypertension or circulatory disorders
- Physical examination to evaluate the nature of the bunion
- X-rays to determine bone and soft tissue damage
What are the Conservative Treatments for Bunions?
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
- Antibiotics to avoid infection
- Ice packs to reduce inflammation
- Getting adequate rest
- Wearing broad-toed shoes that fit properly to reduce the compression of the toes
- Using bunion pads, cushions and splints to protect and alleviate pain
- Selecting well-fitted shoes that match the shape of your feet
What is the Surgical Treatment for Bunions?
The surgical method of removal or excision of a bunion is known as a bunionectomy. The goal of bunion surgery is to relieve pain and restore the normal position and function of the big toe.
What are the Complications of Bunion Surgery?
As with all surgical procedures, bunionectomy may be associated with certain complications. Some of the surgical complications include infection, blood clot formation, recurrence of the bunion, damage to the neighboring nerves, bleeding and unrelieved pain.
What is the Prognosis for Bunions?
Always try to take care of the bunion at the initial stage by wearing accommodative shoes. In very few cases, postsurgical complications may interrupt the healing of the bunion. If left untreated, it may cause bursitis, gait abnormalities, arthritis, and other serious health problems.
How are Bunions Prevented?
Avoid wearing poorly fitted shoes to prevent irritation and compression of the toes, which may lead to the growth of a bunion.