A bunion is a deformity in the metatarsophalangeal joint and develops when the first metatarsal bone turns outward while the big toe points in, toward the other toes, and causes the joint to protrude outward. An x-ray is often used to measure the angles between the first metatarsal of the big toe and the angle formed by the first and second metatarsals to determine how severe a bunion is. Bunions can become very painful and interfere with running, exercising and even walking.
Because most footwear doesn’t accommodate the protrusion of the misaligned joint, the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that acts like a shock absorber to cushion the joint, becomes inflamed. This causes the joint to become stiff and painful.
Bunions typically develop when the feet are squeezed into shoes that are too narrow or have excessively pointed toes. However, while tight shoes can trigger a bunion, this is not the underlying cause. Because they are a result of the shape and structure of the foot, bunions tend to be hereditary.
Low arches, the shape of the metatarsal head, flat feet, loose ligaments and tendons all increase the risk of developing bunions. All of these conditions can make the toes susceptible to becoming deformed and a bunion developing when the feet are forced into tight shoes. Because of they wear high-heel shoes with pointed toes, women are at 10 times the risk of developing bunions as men.
Conservative measures that alleviate the pressure on the joints are often sufficient to provide relived and keep the bunion from getting worse. Switching to shoes that provide enough room to accommodate the bunion and have a wide, flexible sole, such as athletic shoes, is typically the first treatment option. Cushioning the bunion with moleskin or some other type of pads can also help.
Bunions don’t usually require surgery. However, if there is debilitating pain that cannot be corrected by changing footwear, or an underlying deformity, than surgery may be necessary. There are over 100 surgical procedures to address bunions. Procedures are performed to remove the bony protuberance and realign the joint, ligaments, tendons and nerves.
Contact Dr. Alex Tievsky today to discuss which treatment plan may best help you begin the process of freeing yourself from the pain that bunions cause. Dr. Tievsky has years of experience and will know the best treatment option for your specific situation.