If you are suffering from a protruding lump on your big toe joint then you have a bunion also referred to as a hallux valgus by medical professionals. Bunions are one of the most common foot deformities and affect the big toe joint. Bunions are caused by excessive pressure on the big toe joint and can cause the joint to buckle outwards. Anyone can develop bunions as they are a result of your body’s natural response to excessive pressure on your toes. Bunions will cause the skin and tissue around your big toe joint to harden this is to help protect your toe from further damage. The hardened skin and tissues may then become swollen, inflamed, and painful. Occasionally a fluid-filled sac called a bursa may grow over the joint. Hammer toes can also be prevalent in those with bunions as the big toe push can up against the other toes causing them to become crowded.
Bunions have a tendency to be linked to genetics, however, this does not necessarily mean that if you suffer from bunions, that your children will also get them too. Bunions are thought to be more widespread in this abnormally flexible joints, which can be hereditary. Something which may boost your risk of developing bunions is through wearing ill-fitting shoes which put excessive pressure on the bones and ligaments of your foot. High heeled shoes typically worn by women are also associated with bunion formation which is often why women suffer from bunions more than men.
Age can also increase your risk of developing bunions. Research conducted in 2011 by the journal Arthritis Care and Research, discovered that 1 in 3 in the elderly population suffer from at least one bunion on their feet that significantly affects their mobility as a result.
Main risk factors
The most common risk factors that increase your risk of getting bunions are as follows:
- High heels. Wearing high heels can push your toes into unnatural positions and can cause crowding of your toes.
- Poorly fitted shoes. Individuals that wear poorly fitted shoes which have a toe box that is too narrow or pointed are more vulnerable to developing bunions.
- If you suffer from Rheumatoid arthritis. Individuals that suffer from this inflammatory condition will have a lot weaker toe joints and those are more prone to bunions as a result
- Poor biomechanics such as overpronation can cause excessive pressure on the toes which can trigger the formation of bunions.
- Genetics may cause a predisposition to get bunions because of an inherited structural foot defect.
Sign and symptoms
The most common symptoms are soreness, inflammation, and pain on the big toe. Sometime individuals may have a large bunion which causes no pain at all but can bring about difficulties such as making shoes tighter and more uncomfortable to wear, whilst another bunion suffers may have smaller bunions which are a lot more painful.
The most common signs and symptoms of a bunion include:
- A protruding bump on the side of the joint of the big toe.
- Inflammation or tenderness on your big toe joint.
- Corns and calluses and dry dead skin forming on your toes – This can often be caused when the big toe and second toe overlap each other.
- Continual or sporadic pain on your big toe or ball of the foot.
- Limited motion of your big toe.
- If you believe that you are suffering from a bunion it is always best to go see your doctor who will be able to advise you on the best treatments options for you.
There are a variety of different treatments that you can try to ease your bunion pain. Taking anti-inflammatory drugs can help to reduce inflammation in your feet, taking painkillers may also help to ease the pain in your toe joint, however, these treatments only mask your symptoms.
For the best treatment, it is recommended to use orthotic devices such as insoles and bunion pads that are designed to help protect your bunion from further damage and help to support and realign your big toe into a more natural position in order to ease your bunion.
Performing stretches on your toes is also advised. By doing toe stretches throughout the day will help to boost circulation, increase red blood cell activity, and improve the alignment of your bones. The best way to stretch your toes to use a gel Toe stretcher which will gently straighten and stretch your toes. Changing your shoes to ones that have a wider toe box and support your feet and correct biomechanical imbalances such as overpronation can also help to ease bunions.
You can read more about the various treatments option for bunions here. If you have any questions then please use the comment form below or sign up for our forum and we will be happy to answer any of your questions.