What Are Bunions?
A bunion is a common condition that involves an abnormal, bony bump at the base of the big toe, causing the joint to swell outward and become painful. The big toe may also turn inward toward the second toe as a result of the enlarged joint, which can then lead to difficulty walking, ingrown toenails and corns and calluses. Bunions can form when there is an improper balance of forces exerted on the joints of the foot, causing instability in the joint of the big toe.
What Causes Bunions?
This often occurs as a result of shoes that do not fit properly, abnormal walking habits or an inherited foot type. Bunions can also be caused by injury, birth defects, arthritis or certain neuromuscular disorders. Although bunions are not usually a serious condition, they can be painful and embarrassing. If left untreated, they will usually grow larger and more painful over time. It is important to seek medical attention and discuss treatment options with your doctor.
Symptoms Of Bunions
A bunion often causes pain and swelling around the joint at the base of the big toe. The skin may become red or warm. If the big toe pushes under the second toe, a painful corn may form on the top of or inside the second toe. In some cases, bunions cause no symptoms other than making the foot harder to fit in a shoe.
How Do You Treat Bunions?
Bunion treatment depends on the severity of the condition, although early treatment is considered most effective. Mild bunions may be relieved of pain simply by changing shoes, applying ice or taping your foot into a normal position. Medication, orthotics and physical therapy may also be recommended by your doctor. Surgical treatment, usually reserved for more severe cases, can improve pain, inflammation, deformities and stiffness.
The most common surgical procedure for bunions is a bunionectomy, which includes:
- Removing the swollen tissue from the big toe joint
- Removing part of the bone to straighten the big toe
- Permanently joining the bones of the big toe joint
Most bunion procedures are performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia. General anesthesia may be used in certain situations depending on the complexity of the procedure and the preference of the patient. Complications from these procedures are rare but may include infection, recurring bunion or nerve damage.
Recovery from bunion surgery depends on the complexity of the procedure. Some people will be able to walk on their foot immediately after surgery, while others may need to use crutches or a cane and may not be able to walk for a few weeks or longer. It is important to keep your dressing clean and dry to ensure proper healing. Most patients require the use of orthotics after surgery in order to maintain stable and correctly-positioned feet.