Bunion is a prominence of the medial portion of the head of the 1st metatarsal bone. The cause is often variations in position of the 1st metatarsal bone or great toe, such as lateral angulation of the great toe (hallux valgus). Secondary osteoarthritis and spur formation are common. Symptoms may include pain and redness, bursitis medial to the joint, and mild synovitis. Diagnosis is usually clinical. Treatment is usually a shoe with a wide toe box, protective pads, and orthotics. For bursitis or synovitis, corticosteroid injection may be helpful.
Abnormality in foot function, particularly a pronated foot. This is probably the most important and common causative factor. Family history of bunions. Narrow toed dress shoes and high heels may contribute to the formation of a bunion. Rheumatoid and Psoriatic arthritis. Genetic and neuromuscular disease (eg. Down’s,Ehler-Danlos and Marfan’s syndromes) resulting in muscle imbalance. Limb length inequality can cause a bunion on the longer limb. Generalized laxity of the ligaments. Trauma to or surgery on the soft tissue structures around the great toe (first metatarsal-phalangeal) joint.
SymptomsMany people do not experience symptoms in the early stages of bunion formation. Symptoms are often most noticeable when the bunion gets worse and with certain types of footwear. These include shoes that crowd the toes and/or high-heeled shoes. When symptoms do occur, they may include physical discomfort or pain. A burning feeling. Redness and swelling. Possible numbness. Difficulty walking.
Most patients are diagnosed to have bunions from clinical history and examination. However, in some cases, X-rays will be performed to determine the extent of damage to the joint. Furthermore, it will enable the treating doctor to decide on the best course of management of the patient.
Non Surgical Treatment
Nonsurgical treatments such as rest and wearing loose (wider) shoes or sandals can often relieve the irritating pain of bunions. Walking shoes may have some advantages, for example, over high-heeled styles that pressure the sides of the foot. Anti-inflammatory medications, such as acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin, Ecotrin), ibuprofen (Advil, Children’s Advil/Motrin, Medipren, Motrin, Nuprin, PediaCare Fever) and naproxen (Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn, Aleve), can help to ease inflammation as well as pain. Local cold-pack application is sometimes helpful as well. To reduce tension on the inner part of the joint of a bunion, stretching exercises are sometimes prescribed. Depending on the structure of the foot and severity of the bunion, custom insole orthotics can slow the progression of the bunion and address underlying biomechanical causes. Inflammation of the joint at the base of the big toe can often be relieved by a local injection of cortisone. Any signs of skin breakdown or infection can require antibiotics. When the measures above are effective in relieving symptoms, patients should avoid irritating the bunion again by optimizing footwear and foot care.
Surgical techniques can now not only move the wayward bones into proper alignment but also slide the first metatarsal downwards so that its head is pushed into a normal position. In its proper position, the metatarsal bone can help prevent the over-pronation that caused the formation of the bunion. Combined with proper orthotic devices, this type of surgery has provided excellent results.