Often described as a bump on the side of the big toe, a bunion is a misalignment of the bones of the big toe. It happens when the hallux (the big toe) leans towards the second toe instead of pointing forward, causing a bulge to form.
- Many factors can cause bunions to form. Most people with bunions have a strong family history of bunions over generations. One may inherit a foot type or walking pattern that impacts foot function, which may result in a bunion to develop.
- Bunions can develop early in life, and may become more pronounced during one’s teenage years. This is called Juvenile Hallux Valgus or Hallux Abducto Valgus (HAV), and they are mostly caused by genetics.
- Ill-fitting or inappropriate footwear (e.g. pointed shoes or heels) can worsen a bunion.
Common Signs and Symptoms
- A bony prominence on the side of the big toe. They may first appear to be swollen, red, tender, or painful around the base of the big toe or ball of the foot. However, there may be no pain at all.
- Bunions are progressive and have varying stages of development.
How podiatry can help
- Early non-surgical treatments can prevent bunions from worsening and prevent pain.
- The podiatrist will conduct a thorough evaluation of your legs and feet to identify the cause of the bunion. These assessments include:
- Hip examination
- Knee examination
- Ankle and foot examination
- Standing and gait analysis
- Footwear analysis and advice
- Based on the assessment, the podiatrist will be able to construct a treatment plan for you, which may involve fitting general or customised foot orthoses , changes to footwear, taping, and/or exercises specific to the foot and lower limb.
- These treatment help to alleviate the discomfort or pain that you may currently experience due to the bunion. However, only surgery will be able to reverse the changes in your foot structure that has already occurred. In more serious cases where pain is persistent despite the podiatric treatment, you may be referred to an orthopaedic surgeon. Surgery can be an effective option in correcting a serious bunion condition if proper screening is done to identify suitability for surgery.
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