What is a Bunion?
A bunion is an enlargement of the joint at the base of the big toe that forms when the bone or tissue at the big toe joint moves out of place. Since this joint carries a lot of the body's weight while walking, bunions can cause extreme pain if left untreated. The following is a brief description and complications of a bunion deformity:
- Development of a firm bump on the outside edge of the foot, at the base of the big toe.
- Redness, swelling, or pain at or near the MTP joint.
- Corns or other irritations caused by the overlap of the first and second toes.
- Restricted or painful motion of the big toe.
How do you get a bunion?
Bunions are generally brought about by years of abnormal motion and pressure over the joint by the big toe (or the 5th toe known as Tailors Bunions). They are, therefore, a symptom of faulty foot development and are usually caused by the way we walk. This is usually caused by heredity passed down from our parents.
Other causes of bunions are foot injuries, neuromuscular disorders, congenital deformities, or improper shoes. People who suffer from flat feet or low arches are also prone to developing these problems, as are arthritic patients and those with inflammatory joint disease. Occupations that place undue stress on the feet are also a factor; ballet dancers, for instance, often develop the condition.
How can I get relief from my Bunions?
- Padding & Taping
Taping helps keep the foot in a normal position, thus reducing stress and pain.
Anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone injections are often prescribed to ease the acute pain and inflammations caused by joint deformities.
- Physical Therapy
Often used to provide relief of the inflammation and from bunion pain. Ultrasound therapy and Deep tissue massage therapy are two common modalities used.
Shoe inserts may be useful in controlling foot function and may reduce symptoms and prevent progression of the deformity.
There are many types of Bunion procedures ranging from recently innovated approaches such as "The Minimal Bunionectomy", where only the excess portion of bone is removed and the patient can basically walk out after the procedure, to the more highly corrective procedure involving screws or pins * where the recovery time is between 6-8 weeks.
Bunions can be very debilitating, but the good news is that in recent years more refined approaches in both conservative and surgical treatments have emerged resulting in faster relief and recovery. Why live with pain if you don't have to?
* At The Valencia Foot & Ankle Center we prefer using Absorbable Fixation (where the body absorbs the pin in 6-8 weeks post-op) as opposed to metal hardware.
Dr. Tony Avakian received his Medical & Surgical Training at Cornell Medical Center, Midway Hospital, and Cedars Sinai. He is The Chief of Podiatry for Town Center Surgery, & Medical Director of Valencia Medical Group.