What are Bunions?
A bunion—also called Hallux Valgus—is a bump that appears inside the foot, around the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint (near the big toe). This bump is actually a bone protruding towards the inside of the big foot. Left untreated, bunions can cause severe pain and even hinder walking abilities.
Bunions are a common problem most women deal with, but men develop them too. Most people develop bunions from wearing poor-fitting shoes—though they can also be passed down genetically as well.
Types of Bunions
Bunions typically develop when the weight of your body falls unevenly on the joints and tendons in your feet. This is usually due to poor-fitting shoes or genetic deformities. The most common types of bunions include:
- Tailors bunion: Also called a bunionette, Tailor’s bunions occur when the fifth metatarsal bone (smallest toe) starts to expand outward, forming a bony growth near the little toe.
- Acute bunion: This condition causes bony masses to form near the toe joints as a result of bursitis.
- Adolescent bunion: Teenagers may develop a bunion at the base of his or her big toe. This bunion may cause pain and can get worse over time without treatment.
How is a Bunion Treated?
If left untreated, bunions can become so painful that you might end up walking differently just to relieve the pressure. Because the MTP joint helps bear and distribute body weight while standing, bunions can seriously affect the foot’s ability to function properly.
To treat bunions, your healthcare provider will begin with conservative methods designed to relieve pressure and restore function. The most common conservative approaches to alleviating bunions include:
- Shoe choice: Choose shoes with wide insteps, broad toes, and soft soles and avoid shoes that are narrow, tight, or sharply pointed.
- Custom orthotics: In order to relieve pressure from the affected areas, your doctor may recommend custom shoe inserts.
- Forefoot products: Products like a bunion shield, night splint or bunion bandages may be prescribed to treat bunions.
Conservative approaches like these are designed to limit the progression of the bunion, relieve pain, and provide a healthy environment for the foot. In more serious cases, bunion surgery may be recommended. Ask your doctor for more information during your next consultation.