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What are “foot bunions”?

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What are “foot bunions”?

Bunions are a type of deformity of the foot. If you have a bunion you will have a bump, lump or prominence on the inside of the foot just behind the big toe joint. Bunions occur when the first metatarsal bone (the bone behind the big toe) starts to deviate inward (towards the other foot) and further away from the second metatarsal. As the first metatarsal bone moves out of position the big toe gradually starts to move outward toward the second toe. Sometimes the big toe will actually cross over or under the 2nd toe.

Bunion pain is usually caused by pressure from closed shoes. Tight-fitting shoes also tend to cause the deformity to get worse. The more the first metatarsal shifts inward and the big toe bends outward the larger the bunion “bump” becomes. Eventually arthritis can develop in the big toe joint because the two bones are not moving in the proper alignment.

In some cases bunions can become so large that it’s nearly impossible to wear closed shoes. Some people resort to exclusively wearing sandals and others may even cut holes in the shoes to relieve pressure on the bunion area.

Bunions can only be fixed with surgery, but sometimes conservative treatments, such as bunion splints, pads and custom foot orthotics, can be used to alleviate pain and slow the progression of the deformity. If you believe you’re developing a bunion the most important thing to do is to wear properly fitted shoes. Narrow shoes and pointed toes are certain to make the condition worse.

If you already have a bunion you should definitely consider having it evaluated by a podiatrist. By obtaining x-rays the doctor can assess the severity of your specific condition, the likelihood of it worsening, and also give you conservative and surgical treatment options.


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Richard H. Graves, DPM
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Podiatrist, Sports Medicine Specialist
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