Bunions

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Bunions, medically known as hallux valgus, are bony bumps that form on the joint at the base of the big toe. This condition develops when the big toe pushes against the next toe, leading to misalignment of the bones of the big toe, which in turn causes the joint at its base to stick out. The skin over the bunion might be red and sore, causing significant discomfort or pain. Bunions can have a significant impact on your foot’s shape and can lead to further foot problems.

Bunions causes

Causes

The exact cause of bunions is still a subject of medical research. However, factors that might contribute to the development of bunions include:

  • Genetic predisposition: A family history of bunions increases the risk of developing them.
  • Foot stress or injuries: Excessive stress on the feet or injuries can contribute to bunion development.
  • Congenital deformities: Some people are born with foot deformities that make them more susceptible to bunions.
  • Inflammatory conditions: Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis can increase the risk.
  • Improper footwear: Wearing shoes that are too tight, too narrow, or too pointed can exacerbate the development of bunions.

Symptoms

Bunions can be identified by various symptoms, including:

  • A bulging bump on the outside of the base of your big toe.
  • Swelling, redness, or soreness around your big toe joint.
  • Corns or calluses where the toes rub together.
  • Persistent or intermittent pain.
  • Restricted movement of your big toe if arthritis affects it.

Treatment

Treatment for bunions focuses on relieving symptoms and may include:

  • Changing footwear: Wearing roomy, comfortable shoes that provide ample space for the toes.
  • Padding and taping: Protecting the bunion and keeping the foot in a normal position to reduce pain.
  • Medications: NSAIDs like ibuprofen may help reduce pain and swelling.
  • Physical therapy: Exercises to maintain joint mobility and prevent stiffness or arthritis.
  • Orthotic devices: Custom-made or over-the-counter shoe inserts may help relieve pressure on the bunion.
  • Surgical options: In severe cases, surgery might be necessary to realign the bones, ligaments, tendons, and nerves so the big toe can be brought back to its correct position.

Prevention

While not all bunions can be prevented, there are steps one can take to minimize the risk of developing them or to halt the progression of the deformity, including:

  • Choosing footwear wisely, ensuring they have a wide toe box and do not cramp the toes.
  • Avoiding high heels or shoes with a narrow toe area.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight reduces pressure on the feet.
  • Regularly exercise the feet to strengthen them and improve overall foot health.
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