Podiatry, also commonly known as podiatric medicine, is a branch of medicine that is devoted to the treatment of the foot, ankle and related-leg structures. Podiatrists can treat people of any age for a variety of foot complications. When many people think about foot problems, they think of issues that usually develop later in life.…
A Foot Doctor Explains Bunions
Bunions are a foot deformity that requires a visit to the foot doctor. A bunion develops at the joint of the big toe as a big bump and causes the toe to deviate towards the second toe. The deformity tends to be progressive, meaning they worsen without medical intervention. Continue reading to find out more about bunions.
What is a bunion?
Medically known as Hallux valgus, bunion deformity affects the big toe joint. Simply defined, it is a partial or complete dislocation (in serious cases) of the joint located at the base of the big toe. As the dislocation worsens, the big toe gradually shifts toward the small toes and the head of the first metatarsal becomes more bulbous and causes pain, swelling and irritation, especially when wearing shoes. Foot doctors also state that the person may also experience a “burning” sensation as one of the nerves gets constricted against the bone, which is why it is necessary to visit a foot doctor.
Despite the appearance of bunions, it is not a tumor or anomalous bone growth. The gradual dislocation of the joint hampers functionality and as the big toe moves in one way, the first metatarsal head moves in the other direction and becomes more obvious. A partially or fully dislocated joint cannot function correctly until the problem is treated. Bunions form at the joint where the toe bends when walking. The condition causes the entire body weight to rest on the area while walking and could cause calluses as the shoe rubs over the toe.
Causes of bunions
Bunions can run in the family, which means there is a noteworthy hereditary factor contributing to the development of this condition. Irregularities regarding the foot’s mechanical function can also lead to bunions. In rare cases, some people are born with bunions, and statistically, more women are affected by the condition than men.
High-heeled shoes, pointed shoes or tight-fitting shoes will exacerbate a bunion deformity. Contrary to popular opinion, shoes do not cause bunions; they only worsen deformities that already exist or are developing. Sometimes, arthritis, trauma and neuromuscular conditions can contribute to bunion development.
Bunions are a complicated condition. When the joint is functioning abnormally, there is a direct adverse effect on other parts of the foot and ankle eventually. The foot doctor will take a medical history and perform physical exams, x-rays and biomechanical evaluations to make an accurate diagnosis and recommend an effective treatment plan.
Some of the common ways that a foot doctor recommends treating bunions include conservative treatments such as foot padding, shoe modifications, orthotics and anti-inflammatory meds, which can help to alleviate or stop painful symptoms. Splints and wedges do not permanently realign the joint and conservative treatment will not restore the structural alignment of the joint.
The foot doctor may discuss and suggest surgery to resolve bunion deformities. The best surgical approach depends on the result of the evaluation and if the deformity is structural or positional. Bunion surgeries are typically performed on an outpatient basis. During the surgery, the foot doctor may also treat any deformity that may have formed as well.
Bunions are the result of a foot deformity. They should never go ignored and a foot doctor should always be consulted with to determine a diagnosis and treatment plan. For more information, contact the foot doctor’s office to book an appointment.
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