What are Bunions?

By Niki Kelley, DPT

Bunions are bony deformities in the big toe where is meets the foot

What are Bunions?

What are Bunions?

A bunion is a bony bump that forms on the joint where your big toe and foot meet. This joint is called the metatarsophalangeal joint (MTP). This condition can also be referred to as hallux valgus. Hallux is another word for a person’s big toe and valgus meaning a deformity involving oblique displacement of part of a limb away from the midline. When you have a bunion your big toe will start to point towards your smaller toes and away from the inside of your foot. This usually forms slowly over time and as it gets bigger you will start to notice it sticking out.

 

How Do I Know if I Have a Bunion?

The most obvious sign of a bunion is a lump on the joint of your big toe. Sometimes there might be pain which can either be constant or pain the comes and goes. The area can also become swollen or red. If severe, the bunion can cause your big toe to turn in and sometimes cause it to move on top of the toe next to it. This my make it hard to move your toes, especially the big toe. Sometimes corns or calluses form where the big toe rubs against the second toe.

 

What Causes Bunions?

high heels and pointed or tight toe areas of shoes can cause bunions

Image of a woman with a Bunion

Bunions are thought to be caused by a variety of reasons, but the exact cause is unknown. Some of these factors you are born with and some of them you can change. Wearing tight or narrow shoes can contribute to the development of bunions or make them worse. Repetitive foot stress or injuries can be a contributing factor.  Consult with your MD or physical therapist for suggestions on proper fitting shoes. Some causes of bunions may be out of your control. Some people are born with feet that are shaped a certain way that predispose them for developing bunions. Furthermore, conditions such as arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis which cause your joints to swell and hurt can lead to developing a bunion.

 

When Should I See a Doctor?

The bones of the foot are affected with a bunion

Anatomy of the bones of the foot

The quick answer is that you should see if you are having ongoing big toe or foot pain, have a visible bump on your big toe joint, have decreased motion or ability to move your big toe, or are have trouble finding shoes to wear due to the bump on your toe. You will want to see a doctor who specializes in treating foot disorders such as an orthopedic foot specialist. The MD will most likely be able to confirm you have a bunion by just looking at your foot but they will do an x-ray to assess the overall joint damage.

 

How do I Keep Bunions from Forming or Getting Worse?

Changing shoes can help significantly decrease your pain and help you manage your bunion pain. You want a shoes with a wide toe box and there should be space between the tip of your longest toe and the end of the shoe. You do not want to feel any squeezing or pressing on any part of your foot. You want to avoid shoes that are pointed or crowd the toe as well as high heels. High heels put pressure on the front of your foot and can cause excess stress to this region. Other treatment options include ice, adding padding to the area, OTC pain medicine and occasionally surgery is needed.

To learn more about foot and ankle symptoms that you should be aware of, watch this VIDEO on “5 Foot and Ankle Symptoms that You Should Not Ignore.”

What Do I Do if I Have a Bunion?

The Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute has the top Foot and Ankle Doctors in the area.  They are the Bunion experts!  JOI has can get you in with one of our Foot and Ankle Specialists quickly.  Let us get you on the Road to Recovery!  To learn how JOI is working too protect you during COVID-19, go to JOI4U.

To schedule and appointment in our offices or with telemedicine, call JOI-2000, schedule online, or click the link below.

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