A bunion (hallux valgus ) is a common foot problem in which an abnormal bony bump develops at the joint of the big toe, causing the joint to swell outward and become painful. As a result of the enlarged joint, the big toe may become stiff and turn inward. The more deformed the joint becomes, the more it leads to difficulty walking and being fitted with shoe wear. Although bunions are not usually a serious condition, they usually grow larger and more painful over time.
Bunions can occur as a result of an inherited foot type, abnormal walking due to other foot problems, or shoes that do not fit properly. In some cases, bunions may develop because of injury, arthritis or neuromuscular disease. Although much less common, bunions can also occur on the small toe where they are referred to as bunionettes. Bunions are diagnosed through physical examination, but X-rays are also administered to determine the type and extent of the bone deformity.
Nonsurgical Treatment for Bunions
Although some people develop bunions because of hereditary tendencies, other bunions can be prevented with proper foot care. Never force your foot into a shoe that does not fit properly. If you already have a bunion, wear shoes that are roomy and minimize pressure on the painful bunion. When these conservative methods are insufficient to provide relief and bunions interfere with your everyday activities, surgical intervention may become necessary.
Surgical Treatments for Bunions
There are numerous surgeries that may be performed to treat bunions. The most common surgical procedure is an osteotomy and soft tissue release. Other surgical procedures include a fusion (Lapidus), or capsular arthroplasty. Bunion surgeries typically are performed under an ankle block anesthesia and are done on an outpatient basis. For several weeks after surgery, patients typically require a supportive shoe or boot and crutches. Recovery takes approximately 3 months and involves physical therapy.