Bunions can also develop as a result of the shape of your foot, a foot deformity or a medical condition, such as arthritis. Smaller bunions (bunionettes) can develop on the joint of your little toe. Wearing tight, narrow shoes might cause bunions or make them worse.
Bunions occurs when some of the bones in the front part of your foot move out of place. The skin over the bunion might be red and sore.
Types of Bunions
Bunions on the big toe are the most common. Other types include:
Tailor’s Bunion: Also called a bunionette, this bunion forms on the outside base of the little (pinky) toe.
Congenital Hallux Valgus: Some babies are born with bunions.
Juvenile or Adolescent Hallux Valgus: Tweens and teens between the ages of 10 and 15 may develop bunions.
There are many theories about how bunions develop, but the exact cause is unknown. Factors likely include inherited foot type, foot stress or injury, or deformities present at birth. Signs and symptoms of a bunion include:
Ongoing pain or pain that comes and goes
A bulging bump on the outside of the base of your big toe
Limited movement of your big toe
Swelling, redness or soreness around your big toe joint
Corns or calluses
What Causes Bunions
Conditions that make your joints swell and hurt, like rheumatoid arthritis, can lead to bunions. Shoes that don’t fit well can, too, especially if they cramp your toes. And some people are just more likely to get them because of the way their feet are shaped.
Bunions are generally thought to be genetic. They occur because of faulty foot structure, which is inherited. Some conditions that contribute to the development of bunions include flat feet, excessively flexible ligaments, and abnormal bone structure.
Some experts believe shoes that don’t fit properly cause bunions, but others think shoes only worsen an existing structural problem.
How Bunions are Treated
Bunions don’t go away. Treatment often focuses on relieving symptoms and may include:
Pain Relievers: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) both oral and topical can be combined with ice packs help with pain and swelling.
Bunion Pads and Taping: Over-the-counter bunion pads can cushion the area and ease pain. You can also use medical tape to keep the foot in the correct position.
Physical Therapy: Massage, physical therapy and ultrasound therapy can break up soft-tissue adhesions to reduce pain and inflammation. There are actually exercises that can help improve muscle strength around the bunion and can modestly improve alignment.
Footwear Changes: Switching to shoes with wide, deep toe boxes can take pressure off of your toes. You may be able to use a stretching device to widen shoes you already own.
Surgery: If nonsurgical treatments don’t help, and walking becomes extremely painful, your provider may recommend surgery. This procedure is called a bunionectomy. Your provider removes the bunion and realigns bones to bring the big toe back into the correct position.
Injections: Steroid injections may reduce pain and swelling but may also be damaging if used too often or injected into the joint itself. This is often a late treatment of bunions when trying to avoid surgery.
Orthotic Devices: Over-the-counter or custom-made shoe inserts (orthotics) can help to control alignment issues such as pronation that may be contributing to bunion formation. You can also place a spacer between the big toe and second digit. Some people find relief by wearing a splint at night to keep the big toe straight.
Because there are possible complications of bunions such as Bursitis, Hammertoe, or Metatarsalgia, consult a Foot and Ankle Surgeon.
Dr. J. Leonard Knudson is a Foot and Ankle Surgeon located in Culver City and near West Los Angeles that is able to determine the underlying source of your bunions.
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Dr. J. Leonard Knudson is a Foot and Ankle Surgeon located in Culver City and near West Los Angeles. We also tend to patients from nearby - UCLA, Brentwood, Beverly Hills, Marina Del Rey, Venice, Santa Monica and the West Los Angeles area.
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