Bunions are a common deformity of the foot that can impact your mobility and daily comfort. Many people experience the symptoms of a bunion for years without seeking treatment, which only serves to make the issue worse.
Understand what a bunion is, what symptoms you may experience, and learn how Comprehensive Foot Specialists in Huntington, NY, diagnoses and treats bunions on a regular basis.
A bunion is an enlargement of bony growth or swollen tissue of the joint connecting the big toe to the foot. The big toe is often seen bending towards the lesser toes, and in doing so, may become red and painful. Once a bunion begins to form, daily pressure is placed on the joint from shoes, which leads to inflammation, stiffness, and pain. A similar condition of the fifth toe is called a bunionette, or tailor’s bunion.
People with occupations that require constant standing and walking may be more susceptible to bunions, but this condition can happen to anyone. The most obvious symptom of a bunion is a large, visible bump on the inside of the foot. This bump can be painful and tender, and you may experience swelling, redness, or soreness in the area as well. The rubbing together of the first and second toes can also cause corns or calluses to develop, along with limited movement of your big toe. People often seek medical help for a bunion when it begins to interfere with the other toes of the foot or causes pain that limits mobility.
The exact cause of bunions is unclear, however, suggested factors include:
Bunions develop slowly over time, so regularly wearing tight shoes increases pressure on the big toe joint, pushing it towards the second toe. This causes a slow change in the structure of the bone in this area, which leads to the painful, bony bump that we identify as a bunion. Studies have shown that those with a family history of bunions are more likely to develop the condition. This suggests that genetic factors can play a role in the development of bunions, but the exact inheritance pattern is currently unknown. Rheumatoid arthritis is also a cause of bunions because of the nature of the condition. It causes swelling and inflammation in the joints of the toes and feet, which causes them to shift and dislocate. This eventually leads to the formation of bunions.
Diagnosis of a bunion is based on patient symptoms and plain film X-rays, which are used to demonstrate the degree of deformity. Oftentimes only a simple physical exam is necessary since symptoms can be seen by the naked eye. Limited movement can be detected by moving the toe back and forth.
An X-ray is often used to determine the severity of the bunion and determine the underlying cause. An X-ray can reveal how far the big toe joint has moved over time and determine if any other toes or bones in the foot are also being affected. An X-ray also allows for measurement of the angles between certain bones in the foot, which can help determine a bunion’s severity. During an x-ray of a bunion, we look at the hallux valgus angle (HVA), which is the angle between the first metatarsal and the big toe, as well as the angle between the first and second metatarsals. The more significant the angles, the greater the need for treatment of the bunion. If a bunion is very severe, it can be detrimental to the architecture of the foot (along with causing pain and discomfort).
Initial treatment may include proper fitting shoes, orthotics, and/or NSAIDs. Unfortunately, the aforementioned therapy may only reduce symptoms. If the bunion deformity persists, and pain is not alleviated by conservative methods, surgical options may need to be considered. This is accomplished most often by shifting the bone back into a more normal position and temporarily holding it in position with a pin or screw until the bone has healed in the corrected position.
Bunion treatment is crucial if symptoms are severe, because this misalignment of the bones of the foot can cause other issues in the area. It is best if treatment begins before the bunion is serious, because this allows for correction of the issue before the big toe fully overlaps the second toe.
At Comprehensive Foot Specialists, we are dedicated to treating a variety of foot conditions, including bunions. We proudly serve patients at our office Huntington, NY and will work with you every step of the way to promote positive foot health and care. To learn more about the services we provide and to get on track to more comfortable living, please contact us today.
At Comprehensive Foot Specialists, our expert physicians are dedicated to treating a wide variety of foot and ankle conditions so you can live comfortably, 24/7. Contact us today to learn more!Book an Appointment