A simple guide to understanding bunions

October 9, 2015

Bunions are not only ugly, they hurt. The triangular bony bump at the base of the big toe is not, as many people believe, formation of new bone. It's the unnatural protrusion of the bone at the joint.

A simple guide to understanding bunions

What causes bunions?

Bunions can happen for several reasons.

  • For one, your parents may have passed along the faulty structure and you may have helped heredity by wearing high heels, increasing the force on the front of the foot.
  • Tight shoes also aggravate the condition by causing the big toe to lean toward the other toes, pushing the big toe joint out.
  • As the toe joint rotates, the sesamoids, the two small bones under the toe, become dislocated, causing pain. The big toe's deformity means it's less able to bear weight.

What are the symptoms?

The initial symptoms are swelling, redness, or soreness, as well as a thickening of the skin, at the big-toe joint.

  • You may also develop corns or calluses where your first and second toes overlap.
  • You'll begin to feel pain and may even notice less flexibility in your big toe.

Will they get worse?

Bunions are often progressive, and as they get worse from day-to-day stress on the foot, they can also cause arthritic changes, adding to your pain.

  • Wearing low-heeled shoes that are roomy at the front will keep the condition from getting worse and definitely make it less painful.

Visit your doctor

Your orthopaedist or podiatrist will examine your foot and ask about the kind of pain you are feeling and where it's located.

  • She will also ask about your and your family's history of foot difficulties and your history of injuries.
  • The doctor will also ask about your shoes and may have your foot X-rayed.
  • Once the foot specialist has the information needed, she may suggest one or several treatments.

For people suffering from bunions, it is an extremely painful ailment that can inhibit their ability to walk and move around. If this sounds like you, be sure to get your foot checked-out by a professional.

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