A bunion (Hallux Abducto Valgus) is sometimes described as a bump on the side of the big toe. However, the visible bump actually reflects changes in the bony framework in the front part of the foot. Instead of pointing straight ahead, the big toe leans towards the second toe, throwing the bones out of alignment and producing the ?bump? of the bunion. Bunions are a progressive disorder and gradually change the angle of the bones in your foot over the years. Symptoms usually occur in the later stages. The skin over the base of your big toe may become red and tender, and make wearing shoes painful. The bigger the bunion gets, the more it hurts to walk. Pressure from your big toe can force your second toe out of alignment, sometimes overlapping your third toe. Severe bunions can make it difficult to walk and you may develop arthritis.
The classic bunion, medically known as hallux abductovalgus or HAV, is a bump on the side of the great toe joint. This bump represents an actual deviation of the 1st metatarsal and often an overgrowth of bone on the metatarsal head. In addition, there is also deviation of the great toe toward the second toe. In severe cases, the great toe can either lie above or below the second toe. Shoes are often blamed for creating these problems. This, however, is inaccurate. It has been noted that primitive tribes where going barefoot is the norm will also develop bunions. Bunions develop from abnormal foot structure and mechanics (e.g. excessive pronation), which place an undue load on the 1st metatarsal. This leads to stretching of supporting soft tissue structures such as joint capsules and ligaments with the end result being gradual deviation of the 1st metatarsal. As the deformity increases, there is an abnormal pull of certain tendons, which leads to the drifting of the great toe toward the 2nd toe. At this stage, there is also adaptation of the joint itself that occurs.
SymptomsAudible clicking (called ?crepitus?) and/or stiffness in the affected joint which indicates that the joint surfaces are rubbing together improperly. Inflammation, degeneration of the surfaces of the joint, deformity (including bone growth at the joint line and displacement of the toe) and ultimately, loss of range of motion in the joint. Pain at the side and top of the joint that worsens with walking and physical activity.
People with bunions may be concerned about the changing appearance of their feet, but it is usually the pain caused by the condition that leads them to consult their doctor. The doctor will evaluate any symptoms experienced and examine the affected foot for joint enlargement, tissue swelling and/or tenderness. They will also assess any risk factors for the condition and will ask about family history. An x-ray of the foot is usually recommended so that the alignment of big toe joint can be assessed. This would also allow any other conditions that may be affecting the joint, such as arthritis, to be seen.
Non Surgical Treatment
Bunions often respond to conservative care measures and should always be treated by a qualified healthcare professional in a timely and appropriate manner. Conservative treatment for bunions usually involves the following, splinting your great toe (so that it does not migrate toward the inside edge of your foot). A toe-spacer (such as Correct Toes) may be a useful tool, because it helps progressively splay and re-align all of your toes. Performing range of motion exercises (to move your big toe into a more favorable position). Supporting of the joints in the back of your foot that cause forefoot instability. Using shoes that allow the bunion splint to keep your big toe pointing straight ahead.
Bunion surgery is an option for those who have persisting pain and the condition is worsening. Surgery on a bunion can correct the bone deformity, increase function and relieve pain. Bunion surgery should not be considered lightly, the surgery is often successful but there is a rate of surgical failure. The big toe can move back into its previous place if the patient does not follow instructions, which will result in the pain returning. The surgical failure for bunions can be reduced greatly if activity restrictions are followed and proper footwear is worn after surgery.