What are bunions

Bunions (also known as hallux valgus) are a common foot deformity characterised by a bony bump that forms at the base of the big toe. This deformity can cause the big toe to lean towards the other toes, leading to pain, swelling, rubbing and reduced mobility. Bunions often develop gradually and can significantly impact daily activities and footwear choices.

Symptoms of bunions

Bunions typically present with the following symptoms:

  • A visible protrusion at the base of the big toe
  • Pain and tenderness around the area
  • Corns or calluses developing where the toes rub together or overlapping
  • Problems with lesser toes and pain on walking
Normal foot vs. Bunion (hallux valgus)

Risk factors for bunions

Certain factors may increase the risk of developing bunions, such as:

Genetics: A family history of bunions or foot deformities can predispose an individual to this condition.

Footwear Choices: Wearing high heels or shoes that are too tight can exacerbate or contribute to bunion formation.

Arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory joint conditions can increase the risk.

Diagnosis of bunions

Dr Graff will examine your foot and organise imaging, such as:

  • X-Rays: To evaluate the bone structure and determine the severity.
  • MRI Scans: Very rarely, but they may be used to view soft tissue and other surrounding structures.
X-ray of bunion deformity

Management and treatment of bunions

Management and treatment of bunions aim to relieve pain and correct the deformity when possible.

Options include:

  • Padding or taping: These can cushion the area and help reduce pain- they do not correct the bunion
  • Proper Footwear: Choosing wider shoes and avoiding high heels can reduce pressure on the bunion and stop pain from rubbing
  • Orthotic Devices: Custom-made inserts may help to redistribute pressure and reduce pain.
  • Medication: Over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage discomfort.
  • Surgery: For severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to realign the toe and remove the bunion.

Bunions are a prevalent foot disorder that can cause significant discomfort and limit daily activities. Surgical intervention is an option if there is inadequate relief with conservative measures.

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