A bunion is a bony bulge that forms at the metatarsophalangeal joint (MTPJ), where a toe attaches to the foot. In this instance, the issue occurs at the base of the big toe, with the bump protruding into the inner edge of the foot. This is often in response to a misalignment of the two bones making up the MPTJ – the phalangeal and metatarsal bones. When this happens, typically the bone in the big toe has started to angle inwards, towards the other bones, which then pushes the MTPJ out of position.
The consequence of the shifting bones is the easily noticeable bump at the base of the affected big toe. Many times, the bump is sore, swollen, and reddened. There is also an increased probability of calluses and corns, especially where the big toe overlays with the second toe. Other symptoms include pain that can be either persistent or intermittent and restricted movement of the big toe.
The main cause of a bunion is the pressures related to shifting and bearing weight that fall unevenly on the joints and tendons in the feet. This creates an imbalance with how forces are distributed and it leads to an unstable MTPJ.
Injuries, inherited foot structures, and congenital foot deformities (those present at birth) are often cited as contributing factors. There is some unresolved debate regarding this matter within the medical community, but narrow, tight-fitting shoes—particularly high heels—might also be to blame. At the very least, it is reasonable to determine that these shoes do not help the situation and, even if they are not fully responsible, they likely contribute to the condition worsening.
Bunion Risk Factors
Some of the factors that increase the probability of a bunion include:
- Heredity. A defect or an inherited foot structure can increase the odds of an individual developing a bunion.
- Arthritis. Changes in your gait pattern—the biomechanical manner in which you walk—to accommodate arthritis pain increases the risk of bunions.
- Footwear. As noted, it is not conclusive as to whether or not shoes actually cause bunions, but footwear that is too tight, narrow, or high-heeled may make one more likely.
Treatment for Bunions
There are many treatment possibilities available for bunions. The ones that prove to be most effective for a patient do vary based on severity and pain experienced. Typically, we will often begin with nonsurgical methods to treat bunion symptoms and problems. These include medication, icing regimens, shoe modifications, and custom orthotics.
It is always our hope that conservative care will be effective, but there is a chance that a bunionectomy will be needed to provide optimal relief. The goal of surgical procedures is to provide comfort by restoring the toe to a natural position. This can be accomplished through a variety of methods, including:
- Fusing the bones involved in the joint.
- Removing part of the big toe bone to straighten it.
- Removing swollen tissue found around the big toe’s MTPJ.
- Realigning the long bone in your foot and the bone in your big toe to correct the abnormal angle of the MTPJ.
Professional Bunion Treatment in Avon & Frisco, CO
When you have one of these common toe deformities, you need treatment to relieve pain and address any other present symptoms. Eagle-Summit Foot & Ankle is ready to provide the care you need, so contact us today by calling our Avon, CO location at (970) 949-0500 or our Frisco location at (970) 668-4565. You can also use our online form to schedule your appointment at either of our Colorado offices.