Symptoms, Causes, Precautions and Treatment of Bunion
What Is a Bunion?
Bunions are often described as a bump on the side of the big toe. But a bunion is more than that. The visible bump actually reflects changes in the bony framework of the front part of the foot. With a bunion, the big toe leans toward the second toe, rather than pointing straight ahead. This throws the bones out of alignment— producing the bunion’s “bump.” Bunions are a progressive disorder. They begin with a leaning of the big toe, gradually changing the angle of the bones over the years and slowly producing the characteristic bump, which continues to become increasingly prominent. Usually the symptoms of bunions appear at later stages, although some people never have symptoms. What Causes a Bunion? Bunions are most often caused by an inherited faulty mechanical structure of the foot. It is not the bunion itself that is inherited, but certain foot types that make a person prone to developing a bunion. Although wearing shoes that crowd the toes won’t actually cause bunions in the first place, it sometimes makes the deformity get progressively worse. That means you may experience symptoms sooner.
Symptoms occur most often when wearing shoes that crowd the toes— shoes with a tight toe box or high heels. This may explain why women are more likely to have symptoms than men. In addition, spending long periods of time on your feet can aggravate the symptoms of bunions. Symptoms, which occur at the site of the bunion, may include:
- Pain or soreness
- Inflammation and redness
- A burning sensation
- Perhaps some numbness
Other conditions which may appear with bunions include calluses on the big toe, sores between the toes, ingrown toenail, and restricted motion of the toe.
Diagnosis Bunions are readily apparent—you can see the prominence at the base of the big toe or side of the foot. However, to fully evaluate your condition, the podiatric foot and ankle surgeon may take x-rays to determine the degree of the deformity and assess the changes that have occurred. Because bunions are progressive, they don’t go away, and will usually get worse over time. But not all cases are alike—some bunions progress more rapidly than others.
Once your podiatric surgeon has evaluated your particular case, a treatment plan can be developed that is suited to your needs.Treatment Sometimes observation of the bunion is all that’s needed. A periodic office evaluation and x-ray examination can determine if your bunion deformity is advancing, thereby reducing your chance of irreversible damage to the joint. In many other cases, however, some type of treatment is needed. Early treatments are aimed at easing the pain of bunions, but they won’t reverse the deformity itself. These options include:
- Changes in shoe wear: Wearing the right kind of shoes is very important. Choose shoes that have a wide toe box and forgo those with pointed toes or high heels which may aggravate the condition.
- Padding: Pads placed over the area of the bunion can help
minimize pain. You can get bunion pads from your podiatric surgeon or purchase them at a drug store.
- Activity modifications: Avoid activity that causes bunion pain, including standing for long periods of time.
- Medications: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may help to relieve pain.
- Icing: Applying an ice pack several times a day helps reduce inflammation and pain.
- Injection therapy: Although rarely used in bunion treatment, injections of corticosteroids may be useful in treating the inflamed bursa (fluid-filled sac located in a joint) sometimes seen with bunions.
- Orthotic devices: In some cases, custom orthotic devices may be provided by the podiatric surgeon. When Is Surgery Needed? When the pain of a bunion interferes with daily activities, it’s time to discuss surgical options with your podiatrist. Together you can decide if surgery is best for you. Recent advances in surgical techniques have led to a very high success rate in treating bunions. A variety of surgical procedures are performed to treat bunions. The procedures are designed to remove the “bump” of bone, correct the changes in the bony structure of the foot, as well as correct soft tissue changes that may also have occurred. The goal of these corrections is the elimination of pain. In selecting the procedure or combination of procedures for your particular case, the podiatric surgeon will take into consideration the extent of your deformity based on the x-ray findings, your age, your activity level, and other factors. The length of the recovery period will vary, depending on the procedure or procedures performed.
What Is a Tailor’s Bunion? ar in symptoms and causes.
Why do we call it “tailor’s bunion”?
The deformity received its name centuries ago,when tailors sat crosslegged all day with the outside edge of their feet rubbing on the ground. This constant rubbing led to a painful bump at the base of the little toe. Causes of a Tailor’s Bunion Often a tailor’s bunion is caused by an inherited faulty mechanical structure of the foot. In these cases, changes occur in the foot’s bony framework that result in the development of an enlargement.
The fifth metatarsal bone starts to protrude outward, while the little toe moves inward. This shift creates a bump on the outside of the foot that becomes irritated whenever a shoe presses against it. Sometimes a tailor’s bunion is actually a bony spur (an outgrowth of bone) on the side of the fifth metatarsal head. Heredity is the main reason that these spurs develop. .
Regardless of the cause, the symptoms of a tailor’s bunion are usually aggravated by wearing shoes that are too narrow in the toe, producing constant rubbing and pressure. In fact, wearing shoes with a tight toe box can make the deformity get progressively worse
Tailor’s bunion is easily diagnosed because the protrusion is visually apparent. X-rays may be ordered to help the foot and ankle surgeon determine the cause and extent of the deformity.
Treatment: Non-surgical Options
Treatment for tailor’s bunion typically begins with non-surgical therapies. Your foot and ankle surgeon may select one or more of the following options:
- Shoe modifications – Wearing the right kind of shoes is critical. Choose shoes that have a wide toe box, and avoid those with pointed toes or high heels.
- Oral medications – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may help relieve the pain and inflammation.
- Injection therapy – Injections of corticosteroid are commonly used to treat the inflamed tissue around the joint.
- Padding – Bunionette pads placed over the area may help reduce pain. These pads are available from your foot and ankle surgeon or at a drug store.
- Icing – An ice pack may be applied to reduce pain and inflammation. Wrap the pack in a thin towel rather than placing ice directly on your skin.
When Is Surgery Needed?
Surgery is often considered when pain continues despite the above approaches. Surgery is highly successful in the treatment of tailor’s bunions. In selecting the procedure or combination of procedures for your particular case, the foot and ankle surgeon will take into consideration the extent of your deformity based on the x-ray findings, your age, your activity level, and other factors. The length of the recovery period will vary, depending on the procedure or procedures performed.
This information has been prepared by the Consumer Education Committee of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, a professional society of 5,700 podiatric foot and ankle surgeons.Members of the College are Doctors of Podiatric Medicine who have received additional training through surgical residency programs. The mission of the College is to promote superior care of foot and ankle surgical patients through education, research and the promotion of the highest professional standards. Copyright © 2004, American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons . www.acfas.org