A bunion or hallux abducto valgus occurs when your big toe points toward your second toe. The big toe will touch the second or causes the second toe to overlap the big toe. This causes a boney bump to appear on the outside edge of your big toe. Bunions are more common in women and can sometimes run in families. Hallux abducto valgus can develop as a result of an inherited structural defect or stress on your foot or due to a medical condition such as arthritis. If there is an underlying structural defect in your foot this can lead to compensations causing stresses and pressures to be applied unevenly on the joints and tendons in your feet. This imbalance in pressure and stress makes your big toe joint unstable. Over time this causes the medial side of the 1st metatarsal head to develop excess bone that protrudes out beyond the normal shape of your foot. The size of the bunion can get larger over time which causes further crowding your other toes and causing pain. Pain from a bunion can be severe enough to keep you from walking comfortably in normal shoes. The condition may become painful as the bump gets worse, and extra bone and a fluid-filled sac (bursa) grow at the base of the big toe. By pushing your big toe inward, a bunion can squeeze your other toes into abnormal positions. This crowding can cause the four smaller toes to become bent or a claw-like in shape. These bent toes are known as hammertoes. Smaller bunions called ?bunionettes? can also develop on the joint of your 5th toe.
People born with abnormal bones (congenital) in their feet. Inherited foot type. Foot injuries. Inflammatory or degenerative arthritis causing the protective cartilage that covers your big toe joint to deteriorate. Wearing high heels forces your toes into the front of your shoes, often crowding your toes. Wearing shoes that are too tight, too narrow or too pointed are more susceptible to bunions. Pain from arthritis may change the way you walk, making you more susceptible to bunions. Occupation that puts extra stress on your feet or job that requires you to wear ill-fitting shoes. The tendency to develop bunions may be present because of an inherited structural foot defect.
Bunions typically start out as a mild bump or outward bending of the big toe. Bunions at this stage are usually only a concern of appearance at this stage, and at this point they often don't hurt much. Over time, the ligaments that connect the bones of the toe stretch out, and the tendons attaching to the big toe gradually pull it farther and farther towards the second toe. Sometimes patients will find their first and second toes begin to press together too much, and they'll often get a painful corn between those toes. As the bunion progresses, the big toe may begin to ride on top of the second toe, or vice versa, creating a second deformity. Others will develop bump pain at the site of the bony enlargement on the side of the foot. A painful bursa may develop at that site. This is particularly true in tight shoes. Many patients also develop a painful callus beneath the foot. Capsulitis and other types of metatarsalgia may develop in the joints beneath these calluses, particularly in the second and third metatarsophalangeal joints (the joints in the ball of the foot). Over time, with the toe held in a crooked position for enough time, arthritis develops in the big toe joint. This will usually result in decreased range of motion of that joint (a condition known as "Hallux Limitis"), which as a result, often causes the patient to changes in the way a patient walks. Often the patient walks in an "out-toed", or duck-like, fashion, which very frequently causes secondary pain in the legs, knee, hip, and low back.
Generally, observation is adequate to diagnose a bunion, as the bump is obvious on the side of the foot or base of the big toe. However, your physician may order X-rays that will show the extent of the deformity of the foot.
Non Surgical Treatment
A hinged flexible bunion splint, can relieve pain by providing corrective arch support and releasing tension away from the inflamed joint. Change shoes! Avoid flip flops, high-heels and shoes with pointed, narrow toe-boxes. Medicine will not prevent or cure bunions. However, the use of over the counter anti- inflammatory medications can help. Bunion splints, pads and arch supports can help redistribute weight and move pressure away from the big toe.
In severe hallux valgus bunion cases, the first long bone (metatarsal) in the foot dramatically shifts away from the second metatarsal, resulting in looseness and a large deformity. In severe bunion corrections, a surgery known as the Lapidus procedure realigns the first metatarsal into its natural position. Using screws, the surgery holds the bone stable so it does not shift again and reduces the change of the bunion returning to basically none. Surgery may also involve removing the enlarged portion of the bunion region, cutting and realigning the bone, and correcting the position of the tendons and ligaments. By using a special plate with Lapidus procedures, University Foot and Ankle Institute patients are able to put weight on their foot after only 2-3 weeks, rather than the typical 6-8 weeks of no weight.