All About Bunions
You get your eyes from your mother, your hotheaded temper from your father, and your foot structure from your grandma. Yes, it’s true that foot types can be passed down in the family, just like that antique sewing machine and priceless grand piano. Unlike the precious treasures, foot structures—including the tendency to develop bunions—are something you’d rather leave behind.
What is this Bony Bump?
Bunions are a bony joint deformity at the base of the big toe. The medical term for this condition is called hallux valgus. It occurs when the big toe moves out of alignment with the first metatarsal bone that connects your toe to the ankle bones. The big toe joint will start to stick out. The bump you see is additional bone that has formed on the joint, also called the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint.
The condition can progress to the point where the big and second toes start to overlap. It can also create further problems around the area like corns, bursitis, and blisters. A bunion can be very painful to walk with and may lead to swelling and tenderness around the joint. The symptoms will get worse over time, if left untreated.
Genealogy and Shoe Choice
What do lineage and shoes have in common? They’re both causes for this deformity. However, just because bunions run in your family, doesn’t mean that you will get them, it just makes you more prone. The same goes for shoes. Just because you wear high heels every once in a while, doesn’t mean you will suddenly develop this condition. Arthritis, gout, cerebral palsy, connective tissue disorders, and psoriasis are all associated with the formation of this deformity as well.
It all depends on the foot strike. If you have poorly fitting shoes or an imbalanced foot structure like flat feet, high arches, or overpronation, it may change the way you walk. You put yourself at risk for developing this deformity whenever you place improper pressure on your feet by cramming your toes into high-heeled shoes, squeezing into narrow dress shoes, or running without proper arch support for your flat feet.
The Right Shoes, the Right Stuff
The best way to treat this big toe deformity is to prevent it. Look for shoes that have a lot of space in the toe box. Choose shoes that are wide and deep in the front and have stiff soles from the midfoot to the back. Avoid high heels, pointy toes, and shoes that are too small for you. When you exercise, especially while you run, focus on planting your midfoot and avoid going all the way up on your toes.
Your Feet Are Precious: Get Treatment
If you already have the problem, you’ll want to treat it initially with some foot stretches and icing. These two practices will relieve pain, keep the joint flexible, and strengthen the muscles in the area. Custom orthotics and bunion pads are a more progressive route you can take. At Foot Doctor of the East Bay, we can take some diagnostic tests on your foot, prescribe you a pair of orthotic devices that will match your foot’s exact shape, and give you more advice on how to relieve your pain.
Unfortunately, this bony bump will only get worse as time goes on, if left untreated. However, you may be able to slow down the progression of the symptoms and the formation of the bony bump by treating the condition right when it starts. Surgery is the only way to correct a bunion but we will only advise that treatment when all other methods have been exhausted and you’ve progressed into a severe case.
Bunions are a common condition that can affect anyone. We understand your pain and want to help. After all, you only have one pair of feet for a lifetime. Dr. Michael Stein and Zeindelin Ahmad, DPM, at Foot Doctor of the East Bay will treat you in three convenient locations: San Leandro, Pleasanton, and Los Gatos, CA.
Photo Credit: satit_srihin