What are bunions?
Bunions are affectionately referred to as the red swollen bump on the base joint of the big toe, or less affectionately, often referred to as a painful, inflamed boney protrusion at the base of the big toe that gets in the way of a pain-free active life.
According to medicinenet.com “the common bunion is a localized area of enlargement of the inner portion of the joint at the base of the big toe. The enlargement actually represents additional bone formation, often in combination with a misalignment of the big toe. The misalignment causes the big toe to move outward (medically termed Hallux valgus deformity). The normal position of the big toe (straight forward) becomes outward-directed toward the smaller toes. The enlarged joint at the base of the big toe (the first metatarsophalangeal joint, or MTP joint) can become inflamed with redness, tenderness, and pain. A small fluid-filled sac (bursa) adjacent to the joint can also become inflamed (bursitis), leading to additional swelling, redness, and pain.”
What causes a bunion to develop?
Wearing ill-fitting shoes, pointed toed shoes and high heels are often blamed for causing the development of bunions. However, genetic faulty foot mechanics are the root cause of Hallux valgus. As the heel strikes the ground when walking, the joints of the foot unlock and absorb impact. Referred to as pronation, the arch collapses causing the feet to flatten. This flattening causes excessive tension on the tendon in the upper mid-foot that enables the big toe to bend upward (extensor hallucis tendon). The tendon contracts which then forces the big toe to be pulled laterally toward the second toe. This is what causes the initial deviation.
Over time there is a backward force placed on the first metatarsal bone by the big toe, and the first metatarsal begins to move away from the second metatarsal bone. Due to these changes, there is now more pressure on the side of the first metatarsal bone from shoe pressure which causes a thickening of bone and eventually the formation of a bunion deformity. (Source: When the Foot Hits the Ground from Toe to Heel, Series 3:Bunion Self-treatment Products)
Can a bunion be cured?
The good news is that Hallux valgus is not a disease; therefore, it is not life-threatening. The bad news, a bunion cannot be cured. Rather, a bunion can be corrected with ongoing use of orthotic devices or bunion surgery.
One caveat to successfully correcting a bunion is compliance. Whether for pre or post-surgical purposes, frequently wearing a bunion splint to straighten the big toe or maintaining surgical fixation is an ongoing process.
To learn more about bunions, Bunion Advisor recommends the following videos:
Bunion Pain Hallux Abducto Valgus Surgery by Dr. Glass DPM
Foot Pain Explained_Bunions