WHAT IS A BUNION?

A bunion is a bump that forms on the inside of the foot when the big toe moves and pushes against the next toe. While bunions are hereditary, tight and pointy-toed shoes can lead to further pain and deformity. The main symptom is usually pain and redness at the bump itself, but patients may also feel pain at the ball of the foot, and stiffness in the big toe joint. Symptoms often progress as the bunion becomes more severe with a more prominent bump and big toe deviation under or over the smaller toes.

Symptoms

In the early stages of bunion formation, symptoms may be mild. As bunions progress, most people notice the bony prominence that may be red and tender. If left untreated, symptoms progress and may eventually contribute to other deformities within the foot.

The signs and symptoms of a bunion include:

  • A bulging bump at the base of your big toe
  • Swelling, redness and/or soreness around your big toe joint
  • Corns or calluses — these often develop where the first and second toes overlap
  • Persistent or intermittent pain with shoe wear
  • Restricted movement of your big toe
  • Decreased activity level due to foot pain

What Causes Bunions?

There are many theories about why bunions develop, but the exact cause is unknown.
Factors likely include:

  • Inherited foot type
  • Tight and ill-fitting shoes
  • Prior injury

Bunions might also be associated with certain types of arthritis, particularly inflammatory types, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

RISK FACTORS

These factors might increase your risk of bunions or make the deformity worse:

  • High heels. Wearing high heels forces your toes into the front of your shoes, often crowding your toes
  • Ill-fitting shoes. People who wear shoes that are too tight, too narrow or too pointed are more susceptible to bunions
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. Having this inflammatory condition can make you more susceptible to bunions
  • Heredity. The tendency to develop bunions might be because of an inherited structural foot defect

HOW ARE THEY DIAGNOSED?

During a clinical exam, your doctor will x-ray your foot to determine the severity of your condition along with any other conditions

Where do you fall on the bunion severity scale?

Bunion severity scale

Mild

Slight bump begins to form on the side of the foot and the skin may appear slightly red in color. Bunion may be unnoticed by the patient at this stage.

Moderate

Bump on the side of the foot becomes more prominent, skin is red in color. Patients may experience pain or difficulty when wearing shoes or walking.

Severe

Bony bump is prominent, big toe deviates toward other toes, potentially creating other deformities spread throughout the foot.

Mild

Slight bump begins to form on the side of the foot and the skin may appear slightly red in color. Bunion may be unnoticed by the patient at this stage.

Moderate

Bump on the side of the foot becomes more prominent, skin is red in color. Patients may experience pain or difficulty when wearing shoes or walking.

Severe

Bony bump is prominent, big toe deviates toward other toes, potentially creating other deformities spread throughout the foot.

WHAT IF I DO NOTHING?

During the early stages, your pain can be managed but it will typically worsen and you may develop some additional symptoms, including:

  • Arthritis
  • Calluses
  • Toes cross over
  • Hammertoes
  • Bone spurs
  • Ball of foot pain

OK, what are my treatment options?

1. Non-surgical treatments

These treatments are designed to keep you more comfortable, but will not correct the deformity. Conservative treatments include:

  • Toe spacers
  • Pads/splints
  • Inserts/Orthotics

2. Traditional open surgery

During a traditional open bunion surgery, the surgeon opens your skin using large 2 to 6-inch incisions in order to access the bones, tendons and ligaments in your foot.
This increases the risk of scarring, stiffness, and more pain after the procedure. In more severe bunions, the surgeon may choose to fuse the midfoot, therefore extending duration of recovery.

3. MiFoot bunion correction

Mifoot bunion correction procedure uses tiny (⅛ – ¼ inch) incisions (minimally invasive). Your surgeon performs the bunion correction with far less soft tissue disruption that makes recovery fast and less painful.

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