In constrictive shoes, the big toe is forced to bend toward the second toe and the first joint of the big toe is moved out of place. To compensate for the realignment, the outside of the joint is increased in size. Tendons then begin to pull the toe into an abnormal position. Over time the change in position becomes painful and permanent. The change in position also causes the mechanics of the toes and foot to be affected. The joint at the base of the big toe carries a lot of weight when walking or running. In a normally shaped foot the position of the big toe helps create a wide base of support and stability. A foot that has had the big toe bent toward the second toe will tend to roll inward. This abnormal pronation, along with the ill-fitting shoes will make the Bunion even worse. If a person has a foot anatomy that is prone to Bunions, wearing footwear with a too-narrow toe box will accelerate the development of a Bunion. Wearing footwear with a wide toe box may help prevent or at least delay the development of Bunions.
By far the most common cause of bunions is the prolonged wearing of poorly fitting shoes, usually shoes with a narrow, pointed toe box that squeezes the toes into an unnatural position. Bunions also may be caused by arthritis or polio. Heredity often plays a role in bunion formation. But these causes account for only a small percentage of bunions. A study by the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society found that 88 percent of women in the U.S. wear shoes that are too small and 55 percent have bunions. Not surprisingly, bunions are nine times more common in women than men.
Movement of the big toe towards the smaller toes. Bulging bump on the outside of the base of the big toe. Restricted movement of the big toe. Swelling, inflammation, redness or soreness around your big toe joint. Persistent or sporadic dull, sharp or aching pain in or around the big toe. Corns, blisters and calluses which can develop when the first and second toes overlap. Over time, more severe symptoms can occur such as arthritis of the big toe, stress fractures and problems walking.
The doctor considers a bunion as a possible diagnosis when noting the symptoms described above. The anatomy of the foot, including joint and foot function, is assessed during the examination. Radiographs (X-ray films) of the foot can be helpful to determine the integrity of the joints of the foot and to screen for underlying conditions, such as arthritis or gout. X-ray films are an excellent method of calculating the alignment of the toes when taken in a standing position.
Non Surgical Treatment
Treatment options vary with the type and severity of each bunion, although identifying the deformity early in its development is important in avoiding surgery. The primary goal of most early treatment options is to relieve pressure on the bunion and halt the progression of the joint deformity. A podiatrist may recommend these treatments. Padding and Taping, Often the first step in a treatment plan, padding the bunion minimizes pain and allows the patient to continue a normal, active life. Taping helps keep the foot in a normal position, thus reducing stress and pain. Medication, Anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone injections are often prescribed to ease the acute pain and inflammation caused by joint deformities. Physical Therapy, Often used to provide relief of the inflammation and bunion pain. Ultrasound therapy is a popular technique for treating bunions and their associated soft tissue involvement. Orthotics, Shoe inserts may be useful in controlling foot function and may reduce symptoms and prevent worsening of the deformity.
Depending on the severity of the deformity, this osteotomy can be done either at the end of the metatarsal (a distal osteotomy) or if the deformity is more severe, the osteotomy is performed at the base of the first metatarsal (a proximal osteotomy). One of the more common distal metatarsal osteotomies that is performed is called the chevron osteotomy. Typically a small screw is inserted into the bone to hold the metatarsal head in place and speed up bone healing. Following a chevron osteotomy, walking is permitted in a surgical shoe the next day after surgery and the shoe is worn for approximately three to four weeks before a more comfortable walking/running type shoe is worn.
The simplest way to reduce your chance of developing foot bunion or bunionette problems is to wear good-fitting shoes. Avoid high heels as they push your feet forwards to the front of the shoe where they get squashed. Also avoid narrow fitting shoes, especially those that are pointed at the front with a narrow toe box as again, these place pressure through the toes pushing them inwards. Shoes should be comfortable and leave enough room for you to wiggle your toes. Remember, bunions rarely affect non-shoe wearing people. Exercising your feet can also help. By strengthening the foot muscles you can improve your foot position which can help reduce foot bunion problems. Simple exercises like picking up small objects with your toes can help.