Bunions, which occur at the base of the joint of the big toe, are a result of a misalignment of the metatarsal joint. That area of the foot displays a noticeable protrusion, and the big toe is turned toward the smaller toes and no longer extends straight out from the foot. Over time, bunions can worsen, leading to a serious malformation of the entire top portion of the foot. In some cases, the joint of the smallest toe can also experience misalignment, and a protrusion will develop on the outside edge of the foot. Researchers believe that there is a genetic component to the development of bunions, including overpronation, which places increased stress on the toe joints.
Some people will experience pain from bunions, in the area of a small, fibrous fluid-filled sac known as the “bursa.” When the bursa becomes inflamed, redness and swelling can occur, and patients can experience pain. While footwear choices do not cause bunions, the shoes that the patient chooses to wear can certainly aggravate the condition and lead to pain. Over time, arthritis can develop in the area of the bunion, which can be quite painful. Other patients will have minor pain or no pain at all. In many cases, patients seek treatment of their bunions to correct the condition and enhance the appearance of that portion of the foot.
Patients who seek treatment for bunions will undergo a physical examination of the affected area and will speak with Dr. Amar about their symptoms and concerns. In some cases, custom orthotics can be designed to shield the area from rubbing against the patient’s shoes. These devices can also address underlying mechanical conditions within the foot that can be causing or aggravating the patient’s bunions. In other cases, a surgical procedure known as a “bunionectomy” is required. During surgery, the bony protrusion is removed, and the toe joint is realigned.