The most common bunion is an enlargement of the bone on the inner side of the foot at the base of the big toe.
Bunions usually arise from a genetic predisposition and most commonly affect women more than men. Tight or ill fitting shoes such as high heeled shoes can increase the risk of a bunion becoming symptomatic.
Those patients with history of an injury to the big toe, nerve damage or underlying arthritis condition can cause the development of bunions.
The normal position of the big toe begins to become mal aligned towards the 2nd toe. The enlarged joint at the base of the big toe becomes inflamed, red, swollen with tenderness and pain in shoe gear.
A routine weight bearing x-ray of the foot can be used to help diagnose the severity and possible cause of the bunion.
Wearing shoes that fit properly in length and width can help alleviate the symptoms of a bunion. Anti-inflammatory medication like alleve (naprosyn) and motrin (advil) can be used to decrease the inflammation and pain.
Felt pads and bunion splints can be used in shoe gear to help lessen rubbing of the shoes on the bunion. Custom or over the counter arch supports (orthotics) can be used to help realign the mechanics of the foot during activity leading to less stress on the big toe. Orthotics can be used to help prevent the bunion from becoming more severe later on.
Physical therapy and cortisone injections can also be used to help lessen acute pain and swelling with bunions.
If conservative treatment fails, bunion surgery is available to remove the prominent bone growth and realign the big toe and its respective metatarsal. Depending on the severity of the bunion and cause, some patients may need to be non-weight bearing after surgery for 6–8 weeks.
Newer techniques in bunion surgery can improve the rehabilitation and healing time allowing the patient to weight bear immediately after surgery and return to activity sooner than before.