Origin of bunions
Bunions are also called hallux valgus. They are an inflammation of the metatarso-phalangeal joint of the big toe. Bunions develop when the capsule of the joint becomes displaced and enlarged, causing damage to the joint’s cartilage. There are three types of bunions: mild, moderate and severe. The common belief that bunions are hereditary is not true. Oftentimes, patients will see the changes in the size and shape of the big toe and will feel pain in that area. Patients would have difficulty wearing shoes that are tight or narrow. The common bunion where the inner portion of the joint located at the base of the big toe is damaged, affects mostly women. A less common bunion, known as tailor’s bunion or bunionette, is located at the joint found at the base of the smallest toe.
Causes and Symptoms
The exact cause of bunions is not known although some genetic factors leading to abnormal foot function like overpronation that make an individual predisposed to its development. Shoes don’t directly cause bunions to develop but some types of shoes can aggravate foot pain and swelling. Some less common causes of bunions include trauma such as sprains and fractures, neuro-muscular disorders and limb-length discrepancies when a longer leg causes bunions to develop. Bunions are more common in women and can be caused by habitual wearing of tight fitting shoes, long periods of abnormal motion, bad foot mechanics, bone deformities, flat foot, and arthritis.
Bunions may or may not show symptoms. A common symptom would be foot pain when walking or while wearing shoes. Shoe pressure near the area of the big toe can result in sharp shooting pain in the foot. When arthritis develops in bunion patients, it would result in chronic pain.
Bunions accompanied by marked pain are most often connected to swelling of the soft tissues, redness, and local tenderness.
General practitioners may diagnose bunions as the cause of sore foot when patients exhibit symptoms earlier described. The foot is also examined and an x-ray examination would determine the integrity of the joints to check for other conditions such as gout and arthritis.
Rest and wearing of looser or wider shoes can often relieve sore foot caused by bunions. Some types of shoes like walking shoes would be advantageous as they don’t put pressure on the sides of the foot.
Anti-inflammatory medications like acetylsalicylic acid , Ibuprofen and Naproxen can relieve inflammation and pain. Application of a local cold-pack can also provide relief.
For persistent bunion pain that is not helped by home remedies or simple measures, surgery can be considered to correct the bunion. This type of surgery is called bunionectomy. It can correct the deformity and eliminate the foot pain to improve function. However, while surgery is often successful, in some cases, the big toe moves back to its deviant position.