While most people know what a bunion looks like, they don’t know all the facts about the causes and treatment of them. The telltale bump at the base of the big toe is the result of the toe joint moving out of its normal place. This can also happen at the bottom of the little toe and then it is called a bunionette or tailor’s bunion. At NY Foot Health we believe educated patients make the best decisions about podiatric health care and so we’d like to offer some information about this common foot disorder.
Tracking Down the Cause
The root cause of a bunion has to do with the biomechanics of your foot. When the normal balance of forces exerted on the joints and tendons of the foot become disrupted it can lead to instability in the joint and result in the formation of a toe deformity. There are several factors that increase the likelihood of the development of a bunion, including:
- Family history—while bunions themselves are not hereditary, the particular foot type or biomechanical issue can be passed on
- Neuromuscular disorders
- Foot injuries
- Congenital deformities
- Flat feet
- Having arthritis or other inflammatory joint diseases
- Professions or activities that put excess stress on the feet, such as ballet dancers
- Long-term wearing of shoes with high heels or narrow toes boxes that squeeze toes together
Diagnosis and Treatment
Before the actual bump on the side of the toe is visible you may notice swelling, redness or pain in the toe joint. The joint may be stiff and its range of motion limited. That’s the time to see a podiatrist to have your foot evaluated. You can find a podiatrist in your area through our online directory if you don’t already have one.
Depending on the severity of the bunion and how far along it has progressed by the time of diagnosis, the podiatrist will decide on the best treatment options. There are a number of conservative avenues of treatment available such as physical therapy, taping, padding and custom orthotic devices. If the discomfort from the bunion is not relieved by these methods or if it has progressed too far for these treatments to be effective, the foot doctor has several surgical options available as well.