A disease characterized by inflammation of the cartilage and lining of the body joints. Read More

Bunion (Hallux Valgus)

What looks like just a bump on your toe is actually throwing your bones out of alignment.

Bunions are a typical condition of the big toe. That visible bump is caused by a change in the bones in the front part of your foot.

Bunions are a progressive disorder. Your big toe begins to "lean," gradually changing the angle of the bones and slowly producing the characteristic bump, which continues to become increasingly prominent. Usually the symptoms of bunions appear at later stages, although some people never have symptoms.

Symptoms, like pain and inflammation, occur most often when wearing shoes that crowd the toes - shoes with a tight toe box or high heels. This may explain why women are more likely to have symptoms than men. Spending long periods of time on your feet can also aggravate the symptoms of bunions.

Treating your Bunion

Early treatment options for bunions are aimed at easing pain, but won't reverse the deformity itself.

  • Changes in footwear. Choose shoes with plenty of room for your toes and avoid shoes with pointed toes or high heels.
  • Padding. Pads placed over the area of the bunion can help minimize pain. You can get bunion pads from a drug store or supermarket.
  • Activity modifications. If an activity causes bunion pain, avoid it.
  • Medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may help to relieve pain.
  • Icing. Applying an ice pack several times a day can help reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Injection therapy. Although rarely used in bunion treatment, injections of corticosteroids may be useful in treating the inflamed bursa (fluid-filled sac located in a joint) sometimes seen with bunions.
  • Orthotic devices. In some cases, custom orthotics or supportive inserts may provide relief.

Sometimes observation of the bunion is all that's needed. Periodic office evaluations and x-ray examination can determine if your bunion is advancing.

When the pain of a bunion interferes with daily activities, it's time to discuss surgical options. There are many different types of bunions and therefore many different types of surgery to fix them as well. Refer to our bunion FAQ if you have more questions about the condition.

Recent advances in surgical techniques have led to a very high success rate in treating bunions. With so many treatment options, you don't have to live with pain. Talk to your physician about your options.

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