In simple terms, bunion is a progressive, structural bone disorder and the medical term for it is “Hallux Valgus”. In Latin, Hallux means ‘big toe’ whereas valgus translates to ‘outside of midline’. In this disorder, the big toe is displaced and overlaps towards other toes. As a result, this causes misalignment of the foot structure. It results in Metatarsophalangeal Joint (MTP) to bump outwards. Basically, this turnover of the MTP joint (bump) is termed a bunion. In Greek, bunion means ‘turnip’. This is because the bunion bump resembles a turnip. Moreover, the skin over the bunion gets hard, swollen, and red in color. In this article, we will be discussing the symptoms, causes, types, diagnosis, and, treatment of bunion.
CAUSES OF BUNION:
Medically speaking, bunion is a genetic disorder. However, there are some other causes of a bunion as well. Your nature of physical work tells whether you are prone to a bunion or not. For example, if your work requires a lot of standing and walking, you are at a higher risk to have a bunion. Furthermore, it includes ligament laxity, arthritis, and foot structure (flat foot and lower arch). Moreover, ergonomically unsuitable footwear also results in it.
Constant wearing shoes that are tight from toe puts stress on the MPT joint and the big toe. Therefore it is among the major causes of a bunion. Moreover, high heels also change the alignment of joints by stressing the big toe joint. Women are more prone to bunion than men. Certainly, not only because of the fancy wear (ergonomically unfit) but also because of the menopause. Menopause makes women more prone to hormonal change which can weaken the bones. Moreover, this changes the bone immunity and makes it vulnerable to arthritis and osteoporosis.
TYPES OF BUNION:
On the basis of placement and period of occurrence, it has two types.
Normally big toes are the favorite place of bunions. But you can also observe it on the pinky toe (the smallest toe). This small pinky toe bunion is called ‘bunionette’ or ‘tailor’s bunion’.
An adolescent bunion occurs between the ages of 10 to 15 years age, specifically in girls.
SYMPTOMS OF BUNION:
Symptoms of a bunion are quite obvious and easy to predict. Following are the symptoms;
- Swelling or inflammation due to bursitis, (extra stress or compression).
- Hammertoe (bending of the middle joint of the second toe).
- Sharp tingling or burning sensation.
- Feel pain while walking, which can hinder your walking.
- Restricted range of motion (ROM) of the MTP joint.
- Difficulty in getting good fit-in shoes.
- Redness and stiff skin on the base.
- Calluses or corns on the second big toe. It is due to constant rubbing/friction with the big toe.
- A bony lump on the base of joint.
DIAGNOSIS OF BUNION:
Bunion has very clear and easy to detect symptoms. In fact, any unprofessional person can also diagnose it. But, radiography diagnosis (X-rays) of a bunion is preferable. It helps to detect affected ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Moreover, it also helps to find out if the patient has an inflammatory disorder.
TREATMENT OF BUNION:
A proper diagnosis is necessary for treating bunion. The diagnosis highlights the severity of the bunion. It helps the doctor to choose the correct treatment method.
There are several conservative treatment methods to treat simple to a slightly mild bunion. On the other hand, mild or severe bunions may need surgery. Let’s discuss conservative treatments first.
CONSERVATIVE TREATMENT: (non-surgical)
For this treatment, consult a podiatrist (one how deals feet). A podiatrist will find out all your structural and postural defects. After diagnosing defect, he will guide to make a special shoe design. Additionally, there are also other especial podiatric appliances. For instance, bunion gel-pads, and orthotics (shoe insert). Orthotics work as a cushion for toe joint reducing pressure. Whereas, silicon or foam big toe separators and other supporting equipment also help in reducing the pressure from metal tarsal joints. Additionally, night splints also help in reshaping the alignment of the big toe. Moreover, NSAIDs (non-steroidal inflammatory drugs) and cortisone injections help to reduce inflammation and pain respectively. Whereas, analgesics are the best pain-relievers. Additionally, icing results in vasoconstriction. It is a reduction in the size of blood vessels. This helps a lot in relieving pain and swelling.
If there is no improvement after conservative treatment within one year. And other disorders make bunion worst. Then surgery is the only solution. There are almost 100 types of surgery. These depend on its severity and size. Here are a few common surgeries to treat bunions;
In this surgery, surgeons remove the wedge part of the bone. This process also deals with some soft tissues and ligaments. After removal, bones are properly realigned with the help of synthetic screws, pins, and plates. After surgery, patients use crutches to walk. Crutches help to avoid pressure on the joints of toes. This care is necessary at the beginning of 6 to 12 weeks.
As the name shows, this surgery is for arthritis patients or whose previous surgery failed. In this surgery, the arthritic joint is removed and replaced. Surgeons make this replacement with artificial wire, plates, pins, and screws. These prosthetic objects help to support, realign, and heal the bones.
This is the first step of a complete surgery. In this surgery, doctors remove bump with no realignment of bones. It is mostly done before osteotomy. Ignorance of this step results in the reoccurrence of a bunion.
This surgery is also mostly for arthritis patients. However, doctors prefer this when arthrosis is not a suitable treatment for bunion. This surgery usually treats hammertoe. In this, the head of the phalangeal joint is removed. This makes the toe to rest flatly. However, this does affect push-off power and flexibility of toe.
EXERCISES TO REDUCE BUNION:
Exercises are the cheapest and effective form of treatment. People do often neglect this healthy practice. Instead, go for strict-to-follow alternatives. Here is the list of exercises helpful in treating bunion;
Stand on toes and balance yourself for 5 seconds. Repeat this at least 3 times. Gradually increase the time duration as you get habitual to it.
Sit on a chair and relax your feet on the floor. Fix your heel on the floor. Then try to spread your toes, making a high arch. Repeat this 10 times per set.
Put a tennis ball under your feet. Roll it back and forth. In starting, continue this exercise for 2 minutes increase the time duration gradually.
8 Digit Rotation:
Make eight-digit with your big toes on the floor. Repeat this process for four to five times per set.
Abduction with Exercise Band:
Hold exercise band with your both big toe and try to stretch the band. This will help in the abduction of the big toe. This will pull it away from other second toes. Perform this exercise for two to three minutes.
here are some simple measures to prevent bunions, you need to avoid:
- Wearing heels in routine.
- Prolong standing and walking.
- Wearing tight shoes.
- Maintain ideal body weight.
Bunions, usually are not painful especially inherited ones. However, it can get worse and disturb your regular performance. One of the main causes of a bunion is excessive stress on joints of toes. Bunion has very noticeable symptoms. Bunion has different conservative and surgical treatments. Most of the time, it is easy to cure with conservative treatment and exercises. However, it is better to avoid surgical treatment. Following preventative measures are easy than treating it as prevention is better than cure.