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Bunions

What is a Bunion?

A swollen bony bump on the side of the big toe joint. Some patients will experience pain and tenderness over the swollen area in certain shoes and may see callus (hard skin) over the joint where it rubs on footwear. Many patients will also see changes to the foot shape with a progressive movement of the big toe over the top of the lesser toes or pushing the smaller toes towards the little toe.

Causes
It is thought that bunions (Hallux valgus) are largely genetic, but wearing badly fitting shoes is thought to make the condition worse. It is thought that bunions are more likely to occur in people with unusually flexible joints and this flexibility may be inherited.
In some cases, certain health conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout, may also be responsible for the formation of bunions. These conditions cause pain and inflammation in the joints.

Who gets bunions?

Anyone can develop a bunion, but they are usually more common in women than men. This may simply be because of the style of footwear that women wear. They usually begin to develop in the 20′s-30′s and are common in ladies over the age of 60.

Treatment options

Depending on the pain and severity of the deformity there are several treatment options:

• Painkillers – depending on the cause of the deformity a range of painkillers may be prescribed by your GP.
• Change of footwear (see your podiatrist for footwear advice) to improve your gait.
• Bunion pads, toe spacers and orthotics can be very helpful to reduce symptoms and should be considered along with footwear alterations in the first instance.
• Surgery – is the only real option for correction. Your podiatrist can refer you for a surgical opinion.

Outcome
A bunion is a slow progressive deformity that may be slowed down and its symptoms reduced by seeking treatment from a podiatrist. Modern surgery is generally very successful and a recurrence of the deformity post surgery is unlikely.