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Palm Beach Podiatry

Bunions: What They Are and How You Fix Them

Bunions are bony bumps that can be found on the inside edge of the foot and cause a variety of problems and issues. There is a related condition known as bunionettes that poses a similar set of symptoms on the outside of your foot. Here at Palm Beach Podiatry, we are able to help many patients who suffer from either of these fairly common toe deformities.

An Introduction to Bunions

Bunion treatment can reduce pain and keep the bump from progressingA bunion is a bony protrusion that develops at the metatarsophalangeal joint (MTPJ), which is where a toe connects to the foot. In this instance, the problem happens at the base of the big toe, with the bump extending out from the inside edge of the foot. This is a response to a misalignment of the bones that make up the MPTJ – the metatarsal and phalangeal bones. In this case, the bone in the big toe has begun to angle inwards, towards the other bones, which pushes the joint out of position.

Common bunion symptoms include a large bump at the base of the big toe. In many cases, it is swollen, red, and sore. There is an increased likelihood of corns and calluses, especially where the big toe overlaps with the second. Other symptoms include pain that is either intermittent or persistent and a restricted movement of the toe.

The root cause of a bunion is the pressures associated with shifting weight falling unevenly on the tendons and joints in the feet. This creates an imbalance and changes the way forces are intended to be distributed, and it leads to an unstable MTPJ.

Commonly attributed causes for that imbalance include an inherited foot structure, injuries, and congenital foot deformities (those present at birth). There is debate regarding this matter within the medical community, but tight-fitting, narrow shoes—particularly high heels—may also be to blame. At the very least, it is reasonable to conclude that they do not help the situation and, even if they do not cause it, they likely contribute to worsening the condition.

Bunion Risk Factors

Factors that increase the likelihood that a bunion will develop include:

  • Heredity. An inherited foot structure or defect can increase the odds of someone developing a bunion.
  • Arthritis. Changing your gait pattern—the biomechanical manner in which you walk—to accommodate the pain that comes with arthritis can increase the risk of bunions.
  • Footwear. As noted, it is not conclusive as to whether or not shoes can actually cause a bunion, but ones that are too narrow, tight, or high-heeled can make one more likely.

Treating Bunions

There are various treatment options available for bunions and the ones that will prove to be most effective vary based on severity and pain experienced. In general, we will often begin with conservative, nonsurgical methods to treat bunion symptoms. These include shoe modifications, custom orthotics, medication, and icing regimens.

It is our hope that conservative care will be sufficient, but there is always a chance that a bunionectomy is required to provide optimal relief. The goal of surgical procedures is to provide comfort by restoring the toe to a more natural position. This can be accomplished in a variety of methods, including:

  • Removing part of the big toe to straighten it.
  • Realigning the long bone in your foot and the bone in your big toe to correct the abnormal angle of the MTPJ.
  • Fusing the respective bones making up the joint.
  • Removing swollen tissue found around the big toe’s MTPJ.

Professional Bunion Treatment in Boynton Beach, FL

When you have this common toe deformity, you need treatment to relieve pain and address any other symptoms that are present. Palm Beach Podiatry is ready to provide the care you need, so contact us today by calling our Boynton Beach location at (561) 734-3100; our Loxahatchee location at (561) 791-7773; or our Fort Pierce, FL location at (772) 468-0089. You can also use our online form to schedule your appointment at any of our three offices.