Bunions (hallux valgus)

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A bunion (hallux valgus) is a lateral deviation of the big toe at the first metatarsal joint. They are not growths as is the common misconception; however do become more prominent as the deformity progresses.

Symptoms

Swelling, pain and redness at the big toe joint may be due to the presence of a bunion. Enlargement of the tissue around the joint may be due to secondary bursitis. The increased pressure under the metatarsal phalangeal joint can also lead to skin lesions like corns and callous. As the bunion progresses, pain across the outside of the ball of the foot may occur due to the improper function of the hallux.

Pain is typically relived by removing shoes or by wearing open toed/ wide fitting footwear.

Causes

Patients with bunions usually have a family history of the condition. Tight footwear and high heeled shoes can apply a force to worsen the position of the toe. Excessive foot pronation (rolling in) and tight calves/ Achilles will also be assessed for by your Podiatrist.

Treatment

Padding the toe and wearing wide fitting shoes will help reduce pressure on a bunion. Correction foot function with orthotics is very important. They will not only improve patient comfort, but can reduce the rate in which the bunion progresses. Surgery is the only way to ‘correct’ a bunion via reconstruction of the first metatarsophalangeal joint.

Ask your Podiatrist whether surgery is right for you!