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Jul 12

Bunions

Even though bunions are acommon foot deformity, thereare misconceptions about them.Many people may unnecessarilysuffer the pain of bunions for yearsbefore seeking treatment.

What Is a Bunion?

Bunions are often described as abump on the side of the big toe.  But a bunion is more than that. The visible bump actually reflects changes inthe bony framework of the front part of the foot. With a bunion, the big toe leans toward the second toe, rather than pointing straight ahead. This throws the bones out of alignment—producing the bunion’s “bump.” Bunions are a progressive disorder. They begin with a leaning of the big toe, gradually changing the angle of the bones over the years and slowly producing the characteristic bump, which continues to become increasingly prominent. Usually the symptoms of bunions appear at later stages, although some people neve rhave symptoms.

What Causes a Bunion?

Bunions are most often caused by an inherited faulty mechanical structureof the foot.  It is not the bunion itself that is inherited, but certain foottypes that make a person prone to developing a bunion. Although wearing shoes that crowd the toes won’t actually cause bunions in the first place, it sometimes makes the deformity get progressively worse. That means you may experience symptoms sooner.

Symptoms of a Bunion

Symptoms occur most often whenwearing shoes that crowd the toes—shoes with a tight toe box or highheels. This may explain why womenare more likely to have symptomsthan men. In addition, spending longperiods of time on your feet canaggravate the symptoms of bunions.

Symptoms, which occur at the siteof the bunion, may include:

• Pain or soreness

• Inflammation and redness

• A burning sensation

• Perhaps some numbness

Other conditions which mayappear with bunions include calluses on the big toe, sores between the toes, ingrown toenail, and restricted motion of the toe.

Diagnosis

Bunions are readily apparent—you can see the prominence at the baseof the big toe or side of the foot. However, to fully evaluate your condition, the podiatric foot and ankle surgeon may take x-rays to determine the degree of the deformity and assessthe changes that have occurred. Because bunions are progressive, they don’t go away, and will usually get worse over time.  But not all cases are alike—some bunions progress more rapidly than others.  Once your podiatric surgeon has evaluated your particular case, a treatmentplan can be developed that is suited to your needs.

Treatment of Bunions

Sometimes observation of the bunionis all that’s needed. A periodic office evaluation and x-ray examination can determine if your bunion deformity is advancing, thereby reducing your

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