Bunions (or Hallux Valgus) refer to bump on the side and/or top of the big toe joint. Often times there is some poor alignment of the big toe joint as well. They are primarily attributed to genetic factors, but can be acquired and get progressively worse over time. Often times, a flat foot structure may be the underlying contributing factor which places more pressure on the big toe joint during standing and activity. The bone connected to the big toe starts to drift outward pushing the big toe sideways into the other toes which can also lead to painful hammertoes and/or corns and calluses. Symptoms typically include anywhere from a mild to severe discomfort at the big toe joint, which may worsen with activity. Pain is also more pronounced while wearing shoes. Bunions if left untreated, not only can become more painful, but can become progressively worse. There is a strong association between poor joint alignment and arthritis.
Another type of bunion is called a Tailor's bunion. This is a similar condition, but it affects the 5th toe joint (pinky toe). In a similar fashion, there is an outgrowth of bone with a hard lump. There may also be some poor alignment of the joint. Symptoms more typically arise when wearing shoes, which may cause some degree of pain or discomfort.
Treatment depends on the degree of pain and progression of the bunion. Typically, if possible (and unless otherwise requested by the pt) conservative options are exercised such as use of wider shoes, padding and orthotics. If conservative options fail, then surgical correction of the bunion may be required.
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