A bunion is a bony bump that forms at the base of your big toe, where it forms a union with a foot bone called the first metatarsal. Your big toe points excessively toward your second toe when you have a bunion. The bunion is a foot deformity that consists of both bone and soft tissue.
Bunions can be very painful. Wearing shoes that are too small or too narrow in the toe area is the most common cause of bunions. This can be thought of as a pressure-response effect. Women are more likely than men to develop bunions.
What are the risks of bunion surgery?
- Delayed healing
While the precise cause is not known, it is believed that bunions are caused by multiple factors including abnormal foot function and mechanics, such as overpronation, abnormal anatomy at first MTP joint, and genetic factors. Overpronation is a common cause of bunion in younger individuals. Abnormal biomechanics can lead to instability of the metatarsal phalangeal joint and muscle imbalance, resulting in the deformity. Abnormal anatomy at the first MTP joint can predispose an individual to develop a bunion deformity.
Treatment options vary depending on the severity of your bunion and how much pain it causes.
Nonsurgical treatments that may relieve the pain and pressure of a bunion include:
- Changing shoes. Wear roomy, comfortable shoes that provide plenty of space for your toes.
- Padding. Over-the-counter, nonmedicated bunion pads or cushions may be helpful. They can act as a buffer between your foot and your shoe and ease your pain.
- Medications. Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve) can help you control the pain of a bunion. Cortisone injections also might help.
- Shoe inserts. Padded shoe inserts can help distribute pressure evenly when you move your feet, reducing your symptoms and preventing your bunion from getting worse. Over-the-counter supports can provide relief for some people; others require prescription orthotic devices.
- Applying ice. Icing your bunion after you’ve been on your feet too long or if it becomes inflamed can help relieve soreness and swelling. If you have reduced feeling or circulation problems with your feet, check with your doctor first before applying ice.
If conservative treatment doesn’t relieve your symptoms, you might need surgery. Surgery is not recommended for cosmetic reasons; only when a bunion causes you frequent pain or interferes with your daily activities.
Are bunions hereditary?
Do over-the-counter pads and splints really work?
How can I avoid surgery?
Is the surgery painful?
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