Bunions are known in medical terms as Hallux Abducto Valgus, which in English is a crooked big toe joint with a bump on the side. This is actually a progressive misalignment of the big toe joint (the joint is dislocating) which starts with a slight leaning of the big toe toward the second and then gradually produces the characteristic bump and joint symptoms. In the late stages of progression, the big toe actually can overlap or underlap the second and cause reactive hammertoes (contracted) of the other toes. Even though they are extremely common, most people wait until they have significant symptoms and deformity before they seek medical attention. Often they have had pain in shoes and with activity for years when they finally come into the office. This is due to the misconception that they always require surgery for treatment. Don't wait until your bunions are painful! There are many treatment options that are not surgery, to help prevent the deformities from worsening. If you wait until it is painful, usually you have bone-on-bone, the joint is damaged, and it is too late to prevent surgery.
What causes bunions? No, it’s not always the shoes! (But, they don’t help). Bunions are caused by the faulty biomechanics of your foot structure that you inherited. Couple that with high heeled shoes or even just shoes that crowd your toes (Listen up guys who wear cowboy boots!) and you are prone to the formation of bunions.
What if my bunions are not painful? Can’t I just ignore them? NO!!! You want to have your feet fully evaluated and determine the extent of the deformities and what treatment options exist so you can make an informed decision on what treatment you want to choose for your bunions.
Symptoms of bunions are the prominent bump with redness from rubbing in shoes, grinding of the joint, pain, swelling, burning and occasionally even numbness.
Diagnosis of a bunion is done by x-ray findings coupled with physical exam. A bump is not necessarily always a bunion, so a complete podiatric exam including x-rays should be done to evaluate your condition. Many people actually have arthritis of the big toe joint or even just a cyst overlying the joint and think they have bunions. Sometimes gouty tophi are on the medial side of the foot, simulating a bunion deformity.
Treatment includes shoe gear modification, a custom orthotic to control the abnormal biomechanics, padding, anti-inflammatories or MLS laser therapy to decrease inflammation, and at the later stages, surgery. We can help prevent the bunion from getting worse. It is imperative that you have the bunion evaluated early, before pain sets in. Once the bunion is painful, the joint is damaged. We want to prevent damage to the joint and keep you on your feet.
When is surgery needed for bunions? If you have pain every day, in every pair of shoes you own (including your athletic shoes) and you have treated your condition with conservative therapy without any relief; it’s time to discuss bunion surgery. Surgery should never be contemplated without pain and activity limitations. There are many advances in bunion surgery and varied procedures depending on your foot type, the stage of your deformity, your activity level, your medical history, and your age. Make an appointment to discuss surgery with your podiatrist if you have progressing symptoms.
The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons cites a study that showed 96% satisfaction after bunion surgery with a board-certified foot and ankle surgeon. Fear of surgery should not keep you out of the office because 80% of patients who come in asking for bunion surgery should leave with a conservative treatment plan. Call or contact us on the website for an appointment today to get your questions answers. Don’t live with the pain of bunions for one more day.
In our office, the doctor examines your foot, reviews x-rays with you, and discussed the conservative and surgical treatment options. Many times surgery can be avoided if you know what to do. We offer custom orthotics (we have a 3-D scanner in our office) to help prevent worsening of the bunion.