A bunion is an enlargement of bone at the great toe joint. Tight shoes don't cause bunions, but they can aggravate them. Bunions are often inherited and become worse over time if left untreated they can cause pain, swelling, skin irritation and other foot problems. Bunion deformities are often part of a more generalized problem related to improper foot motion. There are presently over 25 types of bunion procedures performed today. The choice of procedure is based on many factors.
No single cause or set of causes for bunions has been identified, although gender-women develop them more frequently than men-and heredity play a role. In addition, the foot gradually widens with age as the ligaments that connect the bones in the forefoot become more lax. Contrary to what many people believe, ill-fitting footwear is not the cause of bunions. In fact, bunions are found in populations all over the world, including among those who never wear shoes. Shoes that are too tight can, however, contribute to the progression of the condition. Bunions are often bilateral, that is, appearing in both feet. Although bunions are usually seen in people who are middle-aged or older, there are adolescents who are diagnosed with the condition, usually the result of a congenital problem.
Symptoms of a bunion include irritated skin, sensitivity to touch, and pain when walking or running. Since the bunion may grow so prominent as to affect the shape of the foot, shoes may no longer fit properly, and blisters may form at the site of friction and pressure. Bunions may grow so large that an individual must wear shoes that are a larger size than they would otherwise wear. If the bunion becomes a severe case, walking may become difficult.
When an x-ray of a bunion is taken, there is usually angulation between the first metatarsal bone and the bones of the big toe. There may also be angulation between the first and second metatarsal bones. These angular irregularities are the essence of most bunions. In general, surgery for bunions aims to correct such angular deformities.
Non Surgical Treatment
The most common cause of a bunion is over pronation, this is when your foot rotates in too much as you walk. You really need to treat the underlying cause of the bunion as soon as possible to prevent any further damage. Wear wide fitting shoes, preferably with a leather upper which will allow a stretch. Avoid high heeled shoes. Bunion exercises will help to keep the joint flexible. Bunion surgery may be required in some patients, however this should only be considered when all non-surgical treatment options have been used. Bunion surgery has improved dramatically over the last 20 years but it still cannot guarantee a total recovery and often post operative complications such as calluses and corns can occur depending on the procedure used. If your bunion becomes painful, red and swollen, try using ice on the joint and elevate the foot on a stool. Bunion Night Splints can reduce the size of the bunion. This will straighten the bunion while you sleep. A Bunion Shield can reduce the pain over the bunion. Performing stretches on your toes and feet while you go about your daily routine. This increases circulation, red blood cell activity, and bone realignment. The easiest way to do this is by using a soft, flexible, medical grade gel Toe stretcher which is gentle between the toes and helps to straighten your toes.
The most significant portion of the bunion surgery is re-aligning the bones. This is performed though bone cuts or a fusion involving the first metatarsal. The severity of the bunion determines where the bone will be cut or fused. Mild or moderate bunions can be corrected close to the big toe joint. Moderate or large bunions often require that the bone work be performed further away from the big toe joint to swing the bone in the proper position.