| How Do Bunions Occur and their Treatment Options
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How Do Bunions Occur and their Treatment Options

How Do Bunions Occur and their Treatment Options

What is a Bunion?

A bunion (Hallux Valgus) is a prominence of the big toe joint caused by misalignment of the bones of the foot. This condition comes about by wearing high-heeled shoes, or shoes that are too small. Bunions mostly affect women.

How do Bunions Occur

Undue pressure from an ill-fitting shoe, or a high-heeled shoe, can cause the base of the big toe (the proximal phalanges) to dislocate from the head of the first metatarsal (Hallux). The big toe ends up shifting in position, bending towards the second toe, while the Hallux protrudes towards the side of the foot.

The result is a significant, painful bump on the side of your foot, known as a bunion.

Bunions occur on both either side of your foot. The bunion that forms on the base of your little toe is called a Bunionette (Tailor’s bunion). In general, all bunions form as a result of extreme pressure on the metatarsophalangeal joints.

What Causes Bunions?

Bunions can occur as a result of inherited factors such as overpronation (excess side-to-side movement of the foot during gait) which can lead to the development of bunions.

The metatarsophalangeal joint can become unstable due to abnormal biomechanics, leading to the development of bunions.

Injuries such as fractures and sprains could also lead to bunions.

Neuromuscular disorders such as polio and cases where one limb is longer than the other can lead to bunion formation. In this case, the bunion forms on the longer leg due to overpronation.

Prevalence of developing bunions increases with age, making age a contributing factor.

Symptoms of Bunions

A painful projection on the side of your big toe caused by the first metatarsal dislocation. Additional bone formation at the joint can also cause the unpleasant projection.

Development of calluses at the point where the big toe overlaps the second toe.

Inflammation around the big toe joint with tissue swelling (bursitis) and thickening around the joint too.


A Scottsdale podiatrist will take into account the symptoms of bunions while inspecting the injured foot for big toe joint dislocation, inflammation and tenderness of the projection.

An X-Ray scan can be carried out to examine the alignment of the big toe joint. Underlying conditions that could have led to the development of bunions, such as osteoarthritis, can be highlighted.

Treatment for Bunions

Conservative Treatments

  • Patients can begin treatment by wearing well-fitting shoes with wide toe boxes to relieve pressure from the big toe joint. Patients should also avoid wearing heeled shoes.
  • Your podiatrist may recommend the incorporation of orthotic devices such as metatarsal pads and other orthotic shoe inserts to lessen the strain experienced on the big toe joint.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication can be prescribed to treat the tenderness of the tissues around the big toe joint. Injection of corticosteroids can be administered to aggressively offer relief from pain.

Surgical treatments

A podiatrist will turn to surgical treatments when all forms of conservative treatments have been unsuccessful. In this case, such a surgery will involve realignment of the big toe joint to eliminate the bunion (bunionectomy).

Depending on the condition’s severity, the patient’s age and level of activity, different procedures may be taken.

Tip for Preventing Bunions

Wear well-fitting shoes with accommodating toe boxes and low heels.

Individuals with flat feet can make use of orthotic shoe inserts that lift the arch of their foot. As a result of this, development of bunions is prevented or slowed down.

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