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Feb 28

What Causes Bunions? How to Prevent Symptoms & Treat this Painful Bone Disorder


What is a bunion? A bunion is a progressive bone disorder that can be painful. It is a bony bump that develops on the joint at the base of the big toe. A bunion will develop when the big toe pushes against the next toe. This will force the joint in your big toe to get bigger and stick out. The skin over a bunion may be red and sore.

What Causes Bunions?

The exact cause in unknown but it seems to have some genetic factors that can lead to abnormal foot function such as overpronation which can predispose a person to develop bunions. Wearing shoes that don’t fit properly does not directly cause bunions, but it can definitely make the bunion more painful and swollen. Bunion occur nearly 10 times more often in women. Adolescent bunions develop more often in girls that are 10-15 years old.

Bunion Symptoms; Foot Pain, Corns & Calluses

Bunions may or may not cause symptoms. The most common symptom is foot pain when walking or wearing shoes. The best way to take care of the pain is to wear different shoes or shoes that are wider. If pressure continues in the area there can be intermittent pain and arthritis can develop. Bunions that are more severe can lead to chronic pain. There may be numbness or a burning sensation. You may develop corns or calluses and there can be restricted movement around the affected toe.

Bunion Diagnosis & Treatment Without Surgery

Physical exam and X-rays will be used for a diagnosis. The X-ray will determine the severity of the bunion and will allow the doctor the figure out the best treatment. Treatment will all depend on the severity of the bunion and may or may not involve surgery. Non-surgical treatment may include:
• Wearing appropriate shoes. Shoes that don’t fit right will cause pain and can add stress to the affected area and cause pain to increase
• Wearing shoe inserts (orthotics) to relieve pressure in the bunion
• Padding or splinting the toe can help ease the pain
• Avoiding activities that cause pain
• Applying ice will reduce swelling
• Pain medication like ibuprofen can also help with pain and swelling
• Injections with cortisone can help relieve swelling in the fluid-filled pads that cushion the bones
Surgery will be needed in patients that can’t find relief in non-surgical methods.

Surgery Options to Treat Bunions

Tendon and ligament repair– This surgery involves shortening weak joint tissues and lengthening the toe. This procedure will often be done when an osteotomy is done.
Osteotomy– This procedure will realign the joint by using pins, screws or plates to fix the bone.
Arthrodesis– This procedure will remove the surface of the joint that has become swollen. The doctor will then use screws, plates and wires to hold the joint together as it heals.
Exostectomy– This procedure will remove the bump on the toe joint and will often be performed with an osteotomy.
Resection arthroplasty– When this procedure is performed it will remove the damaged part of the toe joint and allow more space between the toe joints.

Bunion Treatment

Are you experiencing pain that may be related to a bunion? For more information on bunions and other foot related issues, contact Belmont Anderson & Associates for a consultation.