What Is a Bunion?
A bunion is an enlargement of the joint at the base of the big toe the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint that forms when the bone or tissue at the big toe joint moves out of place. This forces the toe to bend toward the others, causing an often painful lump of bone on the foot.
- Development of a firm bump on the outside edge of the foot, at the base of the big toe.
- Redness, swelling or pain at or near the MTP joint.
- Corns or other irritations caused by the overlap of the first and second toes.
- Restricted or painful motion of the big toe.
Podiatric medical attention should be sought at the first indication of pain or discomfort because, left untreated, bunions tend to get larger and more painful, making non-surgical treatment less of an option.
The primary goal of most early treatment options is to relieve pressure on the bunion and halt the progression of the joint deformity. A podiatric physician may recommend these treatments
Padding & Taping
Padding the bunion minimizes pain and allows the patient to continue a normal, active life. Taping helps keep the foot in a normal position, thus reducing stress and pain.
Anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone injections are often prescribed to ease the acute pain and inflammations caused by joint deformities.
Physical therapy is often used to provide relief of the inflammation and bunion pain. Ultrasound therapy is a popular technique for treating bunions and their associated soft tissue involvement.
Shoe inserts may be useful in controlling foot function and may reduce symptoms and prevent worsening of the deformity.
When early treatments fail or the bunion progresses past the threshold for such options, podiatric surgery may become necessary to relieve pressure and repair the toe joint.
Several surgical procedures are available. Surgery removes the bony enlargement, restores normal alignment of the joint, and relieves pain.
A simple bunionectomy, in which only the bony prominence is removed, may be used for the less severe deformity. Severe bunions may require a more involved procedure, which includes cutting the bone and realigning the joint.
Article provided by the American Podiatric Medical Association.