What Is a Bunion Anyway?

Simply put, a bunion is an enlargement on the side of the foot near the base of the big toe (hallux)the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint. A bunion forms when the bone or tissue at the big toe joint moves out of place. The toe is forced to bend toward the others, causing a painful lump of bone on the foot. We at Houston Foot Specialists urge you to see your local podiatric surgeon for this painful deformity.

What causes bunions? Bunions form from disruption of the normal balance of forces that is exerted on the joints and tendons of the foot. This disruption can lead to instability in the joint. Bunions are caused by years of abnormal motion and pressure over the MTP joint. You can often compare this to the foundation of your house. If the structure is not correct or an imbalance occurs, the doors start to stick, walls crack and the windows may stick. The foot is the foundation of our body so if something is off, the foot will develop problems.

Wearing improperly fitted shoes is partly to blame for your bunions, but your shoes are not the underlying cause. Heredity definitely plays a role as well. You do not inherit the bunion, but you inherit the foot type that may lead to bunions. Other possible causes of bunions include foot injuries, neuromuscular disorders (cerebral palsy and rheumatoid arthritis), or congenital deformities. People who suffer from flat feet or low arches are likely to develop bunions. People in occupations such as teaching, nursing, and dancing or those standing on their feet most of the day are susceptible to bunions.

Some of the signs and symptoms associated with bunions include:

  • Pain on the inside of your foot at the big toe
  • Shifting of the big toe toward the second toe with overlapping or underlapping
  • Swelling
  • Redness on the inside of your foot at the big toe joint
  • Numbness or burning in the big toe

Diagnosis of a bunion is usually obvious, but sometimes there is more going on than just a bunion. Your podiatric physician will ask you questions about the symptoms you are having and will examine your foot. You may be asked to stand and walk barefoot to further assess your foot function. Your podiatrist may also take an X-ray. Bunions generally dont require surgery unless there is an underlying deformity that cant otherwise be corrected or the pain becomes too great despite non-surgical, conservative treatment.

Conservative treatments for bunions include the following:

  • Wearing the Right Kind of Shoe – shoes should have a wide, flexible sole to support the foot and provide enough room in the toe box to accommodate the bunion.
  • Medications – anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone injections can be prescribed by your podiatric physician to ease acute pain and inflammation.
  • Orthotic Devices – in many cases, custom orthotic devices may be provided by your podiatric physician and may be enough to bring comfort.
  • Surgical Options – if conservative measures fail and you still have pain that interferes with daily activities, you may need surgery to relieve pressure and return the toe joint to its normal position.

The most common types of bunion surgery include bunionectomy with an osteotomy. Bunionectomy involves shaving off the enlarged portion of the bone and realigning the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Osteotomy is the preferred choice for severe bunions and involves making a cut in the bone, rotating the bone into its correct anatomical position, and fixing it in place with pins or screws. This helps to prevent re-occurrence. There are many procedures to correct bunions and Dr. Bowman will discuss what is best suited for you and take into effect your activity level.

If surgery is required, Dr. Jeffrey Bowman of Houston Foot Specialists will discuss your surgical options as well as steps to take for a successful recuperation. Feel free to contact Dr. Bowman at 713-467-8886 or learn about bunions online at www.houstonfootspecialists.com at take a look at our information online and videos.

Category: Foot Problems

Tags: Bunion Surgery, Bunionectomy, Bunions, Burning Foot, Cerebral Palsy, Dancing, Flat Feet, Foot Injuries, foot pain, Foot Surgery, Footwear, Low Arches, Orthotics, Osteotomy, Overlapping Toes, Rheeumatoid Arthritis, shoes, Toe Pain, Underlapping Toes