What is a Bunion?

By Moses Jacob, DC
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Bunion on the foot

What Is A Bunion?

First let’s describe toe anatomy. The toes are made up of the longer metatarsals. Each two has smaller long bones called phalanges. The Big toe is comprised of two phalanges, and two joints called the metatarsal phalangeal (MTP) and inter-phalangeal (IP) . The other toes have one meta-tarsal and three phalanges comprising three joints. So, What is a bunion? An enlargement or bump that forms on the joint at the base (MTP) of your big toe. Basically there exists a misalignment of the MTP joint. A bunionette is a term for formation of this bony problem affecting the little toe.

What Can Cause A Bunion?

Bunions most commonly affect women more than men. Wearing tight and narrow shoes or high heels may lead to bunion formation. Some bunions may also be associated with inherited anatomy. Prolonged stress on the joint may lead to arthritis which may form into a bunion.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Bunion?

Pain and deformity are the most common symptoms associated with this condition.

Treatment Options For A Bunion

Conservative care: Change to comfortable shoes, applying cushions or padding, toe spacers , shoe inserts and pain medications. Other methods include physical exercises, stretches, ankle and toe muscle strengthening, or applying ice for pain relief. Soaking the foot in warm bath may help. Some patients benefit from joint mobilization to improve function. Conservative approaches may relieve and slow bunion growth.

What About Surgery For A Bunion?

Chronic painful bunions can be removed surgically. In serious conditions joint replacement surgery may be an option.

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