Bunions

What is a bunion?

When a bunion starts to appear, it looks like a small growth on the side of your foot. Most bunions get larger over time and eventually begin to rub against the inside of your shoe, often causing a painful sore over the bump.

But what may look like a bump, growth, or sore to you is the result of an underlying bone deformity. Bunions develop when your metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint, or the joint that attaches the base of your big toe to your foot, shifts out of place.

This movement makes your big toe bend inward and causes the joint to angle outward, eventually leading to the formation of a bunion. The bump itself is a protrusion of bone.

Although bunions are most common on the inside of the foot, it’s also possible to develop a small bunion on the outside of your foot at the base of your pinkie toe.

Are some people more prone to bunions?

Bunions are often the direct result of years of abnormal pressure over the MTP joint, usually caused by improper foot mechanics.

Because they tend to run in families, many researchers believe that a certain inherited foot type makes some people more likely to develop bunions. Having an inherited, faulty foot structure leads to poor foot mechanics, which increases pressure on the foot and causes joint instability.

People who are born with specific congenital foot deformities are prone to bunions, as are those who suffer some injury or trauma to the MTP joint. People who have rheumatoid arthritis are also more likely to develop bunions.

Why is bunion treatment important?

By the time many patients come to see Dr. Pathak about their bunions, they’re already living with a considerable amount of discomfort.

Because the MTP joint bears a substantial amount of your body weight, bunions are often most painful when you’re standing, walking, or running. The joint itself may also become chronically stiff and sore, making it virtually impossible to wear shoes.

Conservative bunion care begins by supporting the MTP joint through proper footwear. Your shoes should conform to the shape of your foot without squeezing or constricting your toes or any other part of your foot.

Wearing custom orthotics can help stabilize the joint and slow the bunion’s progression while wearing a bunion shield can provide improved comfort.

Dr. Pathak may also advise you to avoid or modify activities that make your bunion feel worse, particularly if you’re often on your feet.

When is bunion surgery an option?

When a conservative treatment approach isn’t effective, you may require a surgical solution. Although every bunion surgery is patient-specific, it usually consists of removing the pronounced bone, realigning your big toe, and rebalancing your foot structure so the bunion won’t reoccur.  

If you’re a good candidate for bunion surgery, Dr. Pathak will let you know exactly what you can expect before, during, and after the procedure.

To learn more, call or book your appointment online today.

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