What are bunions?

The word “bunion” comes from the Greek word for turnip. A bunion develops on the inside of the foot on the joint at the base of the big toe, and typically looks red and swollen, like a turnip. A bunion is a painful, bony bump and is referred to medically as hallux valgus. Bunions develop at the metatarsophalangeal joint (MTP) where the first long bone of the foot (metatarsal) joins the first bone of the toe (called the phalanx). They are formed when the bones that make up the MTP joint move out of place and cause the phalanx bones of the big toe to angle toward the second toe. The MTP joint protrudes from the inside of the forefoot and enlarges, developing a bony bump. The experts at BICMD have extensive experience in diagnosing and treating bunions. They can consult with you through their state-of-the-art telemedicine platform and can give you the best treatment advice for your foot condition and bunions. Many individuals who are suffering with bunions consult them for a second opinion and to learn of the newest treatments available.

What causes bunions?

Bunions can be an inherited trait. Some individuals inherit feet that are more likely to develop bunions due to their shape and structure. Other causes of bunions include:

  • Wearing poorly fitting shoes with a small toe box. Narrow, pointed shoes that force the toes into an unnatural position can contribute to the formation of bunions.
  • Inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • Having low arches, flat feet and loose joints
  • Standing for long periods of time
  • Deformities, often seen at birth
  • Foot injury

Are there different types of bunions?

There are different types of bunions and the causes of them can vary. Other types of bunions are:

  • Adolescent bunions – Formed in children, most commonly girls, age 10 to 15. Adolescent bunions are often genetic and run in families.
  • Bunionette – Also called “tailor’s bunion” occurs on the outside of the foot, near the little toe. Bunionettes are caused by an inherited faulty mechanical structure of the foot.

What are the symptoms of a bunion?

The symptoms are similar in bunions, adolescent bunions and in bunionettes. Symptoms may include:

  • Redness and irritation at the MTP joint
  • Pain, tenderness, swelling
  • Physical deformity – the big toe turns toward the second toe
  • A bump or bone protrusion on the side of the foot
  • Thick skin or a callus on the bottom of the big toe
  • Corns or calluses on the second toe or where the toes rub together
  • Limited movement of the big toe, stiffness
  • Difficulty walking

How are bunions diagnosed?

The experts at BICMD can evaluate the condition and health of your foot through an x-ray. An x-ray will detail the severity of the bunion and pinpoint its cause. They will also check the alignment of your toes and look for damage to the MTP joint. Our “best in class” orthopedic foot specialists have extensive experience in diagnosing bunions and in helping you formulate a plan to correct this painful condition.

What is the treatment for bunions?

Non-surgical treatment:

Depending on the severity of your bunions, non-surgical treatments can often help relieve pain and restore mobility. Non-surgical treatment includes:

  • Ice – Helps with inflammation and pain
  • Medication – such as NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Orthotic devices – Toes spacers or special shoe inserts can take the pressure off toes and relieve pain.
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Padding
  • Shoe modifications – avoiding shoes that are too tight, or pointed

Surgical treatments:

Surgery may be recommended if conservative treatments have failed to alleviate pain. There are many different types of surgical treatment for bunions and our experts can help guide you to choose the best one for your specific foot condition. Bunion surgery can cause a lot of time off work and off of your feet and should be carefully considered. A consultation and second opinion through our telemedicine platform can save you time, money and unnecessary treatment.

Surgical treatments that may be recommended are:

  • Bunionectomy
  • Osteotomy
  • Shaving of the protruding bone
  • Bone fusion

For more information about bunions, bunionettes, or if you would like to receive an expert consultation, and treatment options for your bunions, please contact our specialists, by clicking on “Connect With a Doctor.” You will be connected to one of our orthopedic telemedicine experts through our state-of-the-art telemedicine platform.