What Are Bunions?
In short, a bunion is a bump on the side of the big toe—though there is much more going on beneath the surface than we may be able to see through our naked eyes.
This visible bump on the side of your foot is actually the result of your big toe progressively leaning toward the rest of your smaller toes. Although bunions occur most frequently at the base of the big toe, they can also arise on the outside of the foot at the base of the small toe.
Eventually, the big toe may press inward against the smaller toes, even overlapping as far as the third toe in some cases—a condition known as hallux valgus. With some bunions, the big toe also rotates or twists inward. (This is called hallux abducto valgus.)
If you have a bunion, chances are that it has come as no surprise. It has probably been developing slowly throughout the years and gradually getting worse as you continue to ignore its presence.
This is a common mistake that many of us will make. But ignoring signs of change in our feet and ankles is a very bad idea. You shouldn’t wait until your joints become swollen and painful, or until your toe becomes stiff and hinders you from walking before seeking proper medical advice.
Instead, try avoiding things that may increase your chances of developing a bunion (we know that’s easier said than done) and stay on the lookout for any symptoms that indicate you may be developing this condition (in which case, you should come visit us at Waco Foot & Ankle today!)
Causes and Symptoms of Bunions
The truth is that there are many different factors that may be increasing your chances of developing this annoying problem. However, inherited biomechanical flaws in the foot seems to be the most significant risk factor out there—though you should note that it is not the bunion itself that is inherited, but certain foot types that make can make you prone to developing a bunion, like flat feet.
Other common causes include:
- Diseases. Conditions like arthritis or gout can leave the joint vulnerable to misalignment.
- Overpronation. Or any other gait abnormalities or neuromuscular problems which can affect the feet.
- Lifestyle choices. Recurring stress to the foot from activities like running can increase your risk.
- Previous injuries. Recurring trauma can gradually force misalignments in your big toe.
- Ill-fitting shoes. Tight, narrow-toed, or high-heeled footwear should always be avoided.
In fact, wearing proper footwear is one of the best ways to prevent bunions from progressing. A lot of us—women especially—tend to cram our feet in uncomfortable shoes, like dress shoes and heels, on a daily basis. This certainly explains why women are more likely to experience bunion symptoms compared to men.
So, if you are a woman that enjoys strutting high heels often, then you are likely to have experienced at least a couple of the most common bunions symptoms, which include:
- Pain or soreness.
- Inflammation and redness.
- Burning sensation.
- Numbing sensation.
- Calluses on the big toe.
- Sores between the toes.
- Restricted motion of the toe.
As already mentioned, bunions are progressive, and they will not go away when left untreated. In fact, bunions often tend get worse over time. But with a little luck (AND early treatment), conservative treatment methods may be just what you need to get back to living a pain-free life.