A bunion is a deformity of the foot, at the area where the big toe meets the long bones of the foot. This joint protrudes out towards the inside of the foot and results in the big toe migrating toward the other toes. In some cases, the big toe overlaps the second toe, which then causes other problems. Symptoms of the bunion include: • inflammation of the big toe/first metatarsal joint • redness and swelling of the joint and surrounding area • bulging and “wrinkle” in the person’s shoe • pain in the joint • inability to find shoes wide enough to fit the increasingly larger joint A bunion is called hallux valgus because the big toe moves laterally, which refers to the term valgus. The word hallux refers to the big toe. Cause A bunion is thought to result from wearing tight shoes, narrow shoes, shoes that crowd the foot, and high heels. Shoes that don’t fit well are also a cause. However, some hereditary disorders carry a genetic predisposition to bunions. Also, flat feet may be related to the development of bunions. Although bunions are commonly found in women, they are also found in men. Treatment & Prevention Depending on the development of the bunion and the progression of the big toe, surgery may be necessary. If the bunion is left to progress, it can result in crippling and the inability to walk. Usually, both feet are afflicted with bunions, and surgeons prefer to surgically correct both feet at once. This makes it difficult for the patient to walk for six weeks, but not having bunions may be well worth the initial pain. In milder cases, orthotic arch supports, high heel inserts, as well as bunion shields or splints may be used to alleviate the pain. The pain may be relieved by warm foot soaks temporarily. Biomechanical correction of the foot is essential to the prevention of the progression of the bunion. Also, discarding any shoes that contribute to the development of bunions is essential, and their replacement with wide shoes that sufficiently support the foot is critical.
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