Bunion Deformity at a Glance
Bunions are a progressive deformity that results from mechanical imbalance and undue stress on the big toe joint. The leaning of the big toe toward the second toe throws the bones of the foot out of alignment, causing a protuberance of bone or
tissue around the joint.
Contrary to popular belief, bunions are aggravated, not caused, by shoes. They usually are the result of inherited faulty foot mechanics that put abnormal stress on the front of the foot. Women significantly outnumber men among bunion patients, because wearing high-heeled or pointed-toed shoes aggravates the condition. Spending long periods of time on your feet can also make the condition worse.
Pain from a bunion can be mild, moderate or severe, making it difficult to walk in normal shoes. The skin and deeper tissues around the bunion may be swollen or inflamed. Other toes can be affected, too, from pressure applied by the movement of the big-toe joint against them. Bunions usually get worse over time.
Early treatments are aimed at easing the pain of bunions, but they do not reverse the deformity. Pressure is lessened by padding the joint, wearing comfortable shoes or shoe inserts. Anti-inflammatory drugs and ice may be recommended for relief of pain and swelling. Activities that cause bunion pain should be avoided.
When the pain of a bunion interferes with daily activities, various surgical techniques are employed. The foot and ankle surgeon selects the procedure based on the patient’s age, activity level, and the degree of the deformity. Following surgery the patient usually wears a surgical shoe or cast.