A bunion is a combination of a localized area of bone formation to the medial aspect of the joint at the base of the big toe. In severe cases, the big toe will actually overlap or under lap the second toe. It is one of the most common deformities of the foot. Bunions are usually diagnosed clinically, however, x-rays are an excellent method to measure the alignment of the toes. The enlarged joint at the base of the big toe, called the first metatarsophalangeal joint, can become inflamed with redness, tenderness, and pain. A small fluid-filled sac, called a bursa, beside the joint can also become irritated leading to additional swelling and discomfort (a bursitis). However, bunions may not cause any symptoms at all.
Bunions occur nearly 10 times more frequently in women then men. It is speculated that tight-fitting shoes, especially high-heeled and narrow-toed footwear, might increase the risk for bunion formation. There also seems to be inherited (genetic) factors that predispose to the development of bunions and they are known to be associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
The first step in the treatment of bunions is to visit our Canadian Certified Pedorthists for a no obligation assessment to determine how to best treat this condition. Depending on the structure of the foot, custom orthotics might add further support and repositioning for the big toe. Wearing the proper footwear is also extremely important. You want to select a shoe or sandal with a deep, wide toe box so that there is no pressure placed on the bunion. As well, you should be looking for a stiff, rocker-bottom type of sole to reduce the movement of the joint at the base of the big toe when walking. Avoid all high-heeled shoes. The goal of bunion treatment is to avoid irritating the bunion by optimizing footwear and foot care.