Sometimes, the big toe can become angled outwards towards the middle of the foot and second toe. This forces the top of the first metatarsal to stick out from the side of the foot at the base of the big toe. If this happens, the bones can become misaligned and a painful bunion can form. It is not known exactly what causes bunions, but wearing badly fitting shoes is thought to make the condition worse. Research also suggests that bunions may run in families. It is thought that bunions are more likely to occur in people who have unusually flexible joints, and that this flexibility may be inherited. In some cases, certain health conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout, may also be responsible for the formation of bunions. These conditions cause pain and inflammation in the joints.
Bunions form when the normal balance of forces exerted on the joints and tendons of your feet are disrupted. This can lead to instability in the big toe joint - also known as the first metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint, causing a deformity. Bunions develop over years of abnormal motion and pressure on your big toe joint. They often result from a combination of your inherited foot type, faulty foot mechanics that affect the way you walk and shoes that fit improperly. Other causes of bunions include foot injuries. Deformities present at birth (congenital). Neuromuscular disorders, such as cerebral palsy or post- polio syndrome (post-poliomyelitis). Bunions may be associated with various forms of arthritis, including inflammatory or degenerative, causing the protective cartilage that covers your big toe joint to deteriorate. An occupation that puts extra stress on your feet also can be a cause. Waiters, factory workers, dancers and athletes often are more prone to developing bunions.
Symptoms include redness, swelling and pain which may be present along the inside margin of the foot. The patients feet may become too wide to fit into their normal size shoes and moderate to severe discomfort may occur when the patient is wearing tight shoes. A "hammer toe" may occur at the 2nd toe. This is when the toe contracts and presses on the shoe. Subsequently, this may cause a corn on top of the 2nd toe.
Your doctor can identify a bunion by examining your foot. Watching your big toe as you move it up and down will help your doctor determine if your range of motion is limited. Your doctor will also look for redness or swelling. After the physical exam, an X-ray of your foot can help your doctor identify the cause of the bunion and rate its severity.
Non Surgical Treatment
Making sure that shoes don't press against the bunion worsening the pain is the first line of treatment. Protecting the bunion with felt or foam pads or devices to separate the first and second toes at night may be recommended as may cutting a hole in a pair of old, comfortable shoes to take the pressure off the bony protrusion. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be recommended to help relieve toe pain. In rare cases, physicians may administer injections of corticosteroids to treat the inflamed bursa (fluid-filled sac located in a joint) sometimes seen with bunions. Custom orthotic devices are another option that may be beneficial in some cases.
If non-surgical treatments have failed to relieve your bunion pain, or when the pain is interfering with your daily activities, contact the Dallas bunion surgery specialists at North Texas Foot & Ankle to discuss surgical options. There are a several ways to perform bunion surgery. The best procedure for one person is not necessarily the best for another. Some procedures allow you to walk much sooner, reducing the need for crutches. Depending on your foot type, the procedure can have a greater risk for return of the bunion deformity. Other procedures may require you to be on crutches for a few weeks - but could offer a better result in the long-term. Learn more about the different types of bunion surgery.