What are Bunions?
Bunions are a bony protrusion and swelling at the joint of the big toe and is medically termed Hallux Valgus. Bunions are one of the most common foot conditions, and develop and worsen over time if left untreated – often resulting in toes being forced to overlap each other. The condition can be very painful and impact on mobility.
Symptoms of Bunions
If you have or are developing a bunion, the skin around the base of the big toe will be red and can be swollen. The bone at the base of the big toe will also be protruding.
If you have a bunion then there are other symptoms that may occur, including, dry, rough skin over the base of the big toe, pain in that area when walking and changes in the shape of the foot and alignment of the toes.
Causes of Bunions
Anyone can develop bunions, at any time in their lives – however they do affect more women than men.
A bunion occurs when the big toe begins to angle itself towards the other toes, and bends towards the middle of the second toe. When this happens, it pushes bone attached to the big toe away from the bone next to it causing a bony lump to appear on the side of the foot.
The main cause of bunions today is ill fitting shoes. Tight, pointed, narrow and high heeled shoes are all culprits that cause the bone in the base of the foot in to an unnatural position. This pressure means the bone has to bend to fit in to the shoe and this forces it to develop in the wrong way.
Other causes of bunions are
- Hereditary – family bone structure can be passed on
- Foot type – if your feet pronate inwardly then you have a higher risk of developing a bunion as there will already be an imbalance in the muscles and tendon
- Arthritis – when the cartilage covering the joints in weakened the joints can become inflamed and bunions can occur.
Relief and Prevention of Bunions
The appearance of bunions and the pain they cause can be relieved often with a change to your footwear. Opt for shoes with a wide toe box and adequate support to the arch and metatarsal region. Also check that the shoes are designed to evenly distribute your body weight, as this will alleviate any pressure to specific areas that may be causing the problem to develop
There are also other things you can do to prevent and relieve the pain and appearance of bunions:
- Soak feet in warm water
- Visit a podiatrist to discuss the problem
- There are also some remedies to accommodate and relive bunions – such as splints, bandages and bunion shields
It is also becoming more common to seek surgery for bunions. If this is a option you are considering then you should speak with your podiatrist about the procedure that is best for you – as everyone’s feet are different, and because feet are so complex it is important that you’re treated by a foot specialist who can decide on the best route for you based on the stage your bunions are at.
There are draw backs to having surgery, although it can be a success, there is no guarantee the toe will be straight and pain free. There is a chance that the bunions can re-develop after surgery, not only that but surgery can reduce the agility of the foot making the big toe joint inflexible and you could need up to 6 weeks off work to recover.
Even celebrities suffer with bad feet! All those red carpet appearances in mega high shoes have taken its toll!