What is a Bunion?
At the base of your big toe, you have what is known as the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint. Your MTP joint connects your big toe to your foot. A bunion is an inflammation or deformation of the MTP joint that causes a protrusion at the base of your big toe. Bunions may also affect the joint of your little toe; this is referred to as a bunionette.
What Causes a Bunion?
A bunion occurs over time as your big toe is gradually pushed inward, toward its neighboring toes. When this happens, your MTP joint will enlarge and begin to protrude. Bunions may develop for the following reasons:
- Wearing shoes that are tight or narrow
- Wearing high heels
- Inheriting certain defects
- Placing stress on your feet
- Having previous foot injuries
- Having certain medical conditions
In order to help prevent bunions, avoid pointy shoes. Wearing wider shoes that provide more room for your toes can help prevent overcrowding.
What are the Symptoms of a Bunion?
A bunion may start off small and display little to no symptoms. However, as time goes on and the joint enlarges, your symptoms may become more noticeable and the bunion may become more visually apparent. Symptoms of a bunion may include:
- Swelling near your big toe
- Feeling soreness near your big toe
- Development of corns or calluses
- Ongoing or sporadic pain
In certain cases where arthritis has affected your toe, you may have limited movement of the affected toe.
How are Bunions Diagnosed?
Bunions are diagnosed by your doctor through a physical exam followed by an X-ray of the affected foot. An X-ray can help your doctor to determine the cause and severity of your bunion.
Can a bunion lead to complications if left untreated?
If left untreated, a bunion may lead to other foot-related conditions, including:
Speak with your doctor to learn whether you may be at risk for certain complications.
How are Bunions Treated?
For most, bunion treatment may not be necessary. However, if you are seeking bunion pain relief without surgery, non-surgical treatment options are available. Non-surgical treatment options include:
- Bunion splints
- Wearing wider shoes
- Taping or placing bunion pads on the affected areas
- Certain pain medications
- Placing inserts in your shoes
- Icing your bunions
If non-surgical treatment options do not provide you with pain relief, bunion removal, also known as a bunionectomy, is available. Bunion surgery is usually only recommended when the pain has become persistent or is causing disruptions in your day-to-day activities.
Schedule Your Consultation Today!
If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of a bunion, consult a podiatrist. Dr. Robert Stein is a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine who’s been in practice for over 25 years and strives to ensure that adults and children live without foot pain or discomfort. Call our Cedarhurst location at (516) 374-3668, (516) 775-8440 for our Franklin Square location, or fill out the form on this page to schedule an appointment with South Shore Foot Care today.