A bunion is a “bump” on the joint at the base of the big toe—the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint—that forms when the bone or tissue at the big toe joint moves out of place. The toe is forced to bend toward the others, causing an often painful lump of bone on the foot. Because this joint carries a lot of the body’s weight while walking, bunions can cause extreme pain if left untreated. The MTP joint itself may become stiff and sore, making even wearing of shoes difficult or impossible. A bunion can also occur on the outside of the foot along the little toe, where it is called a “bunionette” or “tailor’s bunion”.
Bunions are brought about by years of abnormal motion and pressure over the MTP joint. They are therefore a symptom of faulty foot development and are usually caused by the way we walk and our inherited foot type or our shoes.
Although bunions tend to run in families, it is the foot type that is passed down—not the bunion. Parents who suffer from poor foot mechanics can pass their problematic foot type on to their children, who in turn are prone to developing bunions.
People who suffer from flat feet or low arches may be prone to developing these problems, as are arthritic patients and those with inflammatory joint disease. Occupations that place undue stress on the feet may also be a factor; ballet dancers, for instance, often develop the condition.
Wearing shoes that are too tight or that cause the toes to be squeezed together is thought to be factor, one that explains the high prevalence of the disorder among women.
The symptoms of a bunion include the following:
- Development of a firm bump on the outside edge of the foot, at the base of the big toe
- Redness, swelling, or pain at or near the MTP joint
- Corns or other irritations caused by the overlap of the first and second toes
- Restricted or painful motion of the big toe
Treatment options vary with the type and severity of each bunion; identifying the deformity early in its development may help to avoid surgery in the future. The primary goal of most early treatment options is to relieve pressure on the bunion and institute measures to halt the progression of the joint deformity.
Dr Ned Buckley offers the following conservative treatments for bunions:
- Orthotic therapy
- Footwear advice
- Pain management
- Padding and strapping techniques
When a bunion has progressed to a certain point, or is causing ongoing pain despite conservative treatments, sometimes the best option is surgery. Dr Buckley offers the latest in bunion surgery techniques to remove bunions and eliminate the associated pain.
To book an appointment with Dr Ned Buckley regarding your bunions, please click the button below for an instant online appointment or call our clinic on 9481 8194.