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Bunions

Alternative name: Hallux Valgus

What are bunions?

A bunion is a deformity of the foot that occurs at the point where your big toe connects to the rest of the foot. A large, swollen, red bony bump on the inside of the foot often develops.

What are the signs of bunions?

  • The big toe is turned inwards toward the second toe
  • Sore foot or feet
  • Painful to walk
  • A swollen, reddened area where the big toe connects to the foot
  • Difficulty with wearing shoes

What causes bunions?

There are two general causes of bunions:

  • Wearing tight, narrow, or high heeled shoes (over 90% of all bunions occur in women)
  • Hereditary factors – the condition can sometimes run in the family

How does a doctor tell if a patient has bunions?

The doctor may take some of the following steps to see if a patient has bunions:

  • Make a visual exam of the foot or feet, after which a doctor can often confirm that a patient has the condition
  • Order an X-ray to help in diagnosis

How are bunions treated?

The choice of treatment depends on the age and how much pain the patient is in.

Adolescents usually require no surgical treatment unless their pain is unbearable. The best and most effective treatment for bunions in adolescents is to buy wider shoes for them and/or have their existing shoes stretched out. If adolescents do undergo surgery, there is a high likelihood that their bunions will return in adulthood.

With adult patients, as with adolescents, the first step is to ease the bunion pain by wearing wider and flatter shoes, or to use a cushioned pad to make the affected area more comfortable. If the pain makes it difficult for the patient to walk or to put on shoes, surgery might be an option. Bunion surgery straightens the big toe, the ligaments, and the tendons so that the toe is pointing straightforward. This procedure does not often require an overnight hospital stay. Full recovery from this procedure can take as long as eight weeks, and foot exercises and physical therapy are often recommended.

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