Bunions

A bulging bump outside the base of your big toe

Bunions and Bunionettes

A bunion is a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe. It forms when your big toe pushes against your next toe, and the misalignment causes the big toe bone to point outward and rotate. It is a progressive deformity and is oftentimes painful. A less common, smaller bunion (bunionette or a tailor’s bunion) can develop on the joint of your little toe.

What is it?

A bunion is a bulging bump on the outside base of your big toe. It is a condition that is usually develops in the process of aging and it most commonly affects women. The condition is termed hallux valgus in the medical field. When you have a bunion, you probably experience swelling or soreness around the joint of your big toe, symptoms that usually aggravated by shoes. The skin over the bunion might be red and sore and the development of corns or calluses if the first and second toes are overlapping. If your big toe is affected by arthritis you will also experience restricted movement.

Another type of bunion, the tailor’s bunion, is a bulging bump on the outside of your little toe. The same things that are experienced with a hallux valgus can also be experienced with a tailor’s bunion, just in a different area of the foot. Those who have both types of bunions in the same foot may experience a very difficult time finding shoes that fit and do not cause further pain.

What Causes it?

There are multiple causes of bunions, the most common being heredity. At times a foot injury will cause a bunion to develop. In the case of tailor’s bunions, they were frequently found in the feet of tailors because they would sit cross-legged on the floor to do their work which caused the bunion to form in the area of the little toe.

Wearing tight, narrow shoes might cause bunions or make them worse. High heels which force your toes into the front of your shoes thus crowding your toes, have caused painful bunions for many women.

Other conditions that may cause bunions are limb-length discrepancies in which one leg shorter than the other. The bunion will develop on the foot of the longer leg because of compensated gait. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition of the joints that can also make you more susceptible to bunions.

What Can I do?

It is difficult to prevent bunions from forming but not impossible. If you know you have a family heredity of developing bunions, wearing arch supports from a young age can help prolong the development and reduce the severity of the bunion in the long term. The arch support will help realign the structure of the foot and put less pressure in areas that cause the bunions to form.

As a practice, to not wear shoes that overcrowd the toes. High heels and other tight fitting shoes tend to be popular in the fashion market but can cause long-term painful foot and leg problems for those who make a habit of wearing them frequently.

Once bunions develop they are permanent unless surgically corrected. If you are considering bunions surgery you will want to weigh your options and research it thoroughly. The surgery can help relieve pain long term and cosmetically help the look of the foot and ability to fit in shoes. However the recovery from the procedure is painful and not always successful. In some cases the bunion reforms after the patient begins walking again. Some doctors will offer steroid injections to help relieve bunion pain.

Choosing good footwear with a wide enough toe box can help alleviate bunion pain. Wearing insoles in your shoes to help realign the foot into anatomically correct shape may be beneficial. Rest and icing can help relieve the pain, as can certain products which will soothe the bunion and protect it from rubbing against your shoes.

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