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How To Address Bunions

Overview
Bunions Callous
Bunions are a common problem that most people experience as a bony protuberance at the base of the big toe. A bunion, however, is more complicated than simply a bump on the foot. When a patient has a bunion, the big toe angles in towards the other toes, a condition called hallux valgus. Bunions are most common in women. The skin over your big toe may be red and tender. Wearing any type of shoe may be painful. This joint flexes with every step you take. Your big toe may angle toward your second toe, or even move all the way under it. The skin on the bottom of your foot may become thicker and painful. Pressure from your big toe may force your second toe out of alignment, sometimes overlapping your third toe. If this condition gets severe, it may be difficult to walk. Your pain may become chronic and you may develop arthritis. Bunions tend to get progressively worse over time without treatment.


Causes
Bunions may be hereditary, as they often run in families. This suggests that people may inherit a faulty foot shape. In addition, footwear that does not fit properly may cause bunions. Bunions are made worse by tight, poorly-fitting, or too-small shoes. Bunions may also happen due to inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. Anyone can get bunions, but they are more common in women. People with flat feet are also more likely to get bunions due to the changes in the foot caused by bunions. There is also a condition called adolescent bunion, which tends to occur in 10-to-15-year old girls.


Symptoms
Patients complain of a cosmetically deformed foot, along with some skin changes which occur due to constant irritation. Pain and redness of the joint may also occur. Footwear can be difficult to fit due to the deformity and pain is often exacerbated with physical activity. Some patients may experience pain and difficulty with simple walking.


Diagnosis
Bunions are readily apparent, you can see the prominence at the base of the big toe or side of the foot. However, to fully evaluate your condition, the Podiatrist may arrange for x-rays to be taken to determine the degree of the deformity and assess the changes that have occurred. Because bunions are progressive, they don’t go away, and will usually get worse over time. But not all cases are alike, some bunions progress more rapidly than others. There is no clear-cut way to predict how fast a bunion will get worse. The severity of the bunion and the symptoms you have will help determine what treatment is recommended for you.


Non Surgical Treatment
Bunions are progressive problems, meaning they tend to get worse over time. Sometimes severe-looking bunions don’t hurt much, and sometimes relatively modest-looking bunions hurt a great deal. Thus, treatment varies depending upon a patient’s symptoms. You can often improve the discomfort of bump pain by a change to more proper shoes. Alternatively, alterations to existing shoes may improve pain associated with bunions. Accommodative padding, shields and various over-the-counter and custom-made orthopaedic appliances can also alleviate bunion pain. Anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections, physiotherapy, massage, stretching, acupuncture and other conservative treatment options may be recommended by your podiatric physician to calm down an acutely painful bunion. Long term, orthoses (orthotics) can address many of the mechanical causes of a bunion. Thus, while orthoses don’t actually correct a bunion deformity, if properly designed and made, they can slow the progression of bunions. They can also be made to redistribute weight away from pain in the ball of the foot, which often accompanies bunion development. Padding, latex moulds and other accommodative devices may also be effective. While they don’t correct the misalignment in the bones, they may alleviate pain. Often, though, when conservative measures fail to alleviate pain associated with the bunion, when you start to limit the types of activities you perform, when it’s difficult to find comfortable shoes, and when arthritis changes how you walk, surgery may be the best alternative.
Bunions


Surgical Treatment
There are many different procedures that have been described to correct bunions. The type of operation your foot surgeon recommends to correct your bunion should be dictated by the severity of your bunion deformity and the surgeon?s preference. There are well over 100 different bunion correction procedures described in the orthopaedic literature. However, the broad categories of bunion correction procedures are listed below. Removal of the medial eminence. Distal metatarsal osteotomy (chevron) with great toe soft-tissue tightening (medial capsular tightening and distal soft-tissue repair). Proximal metatarsal osteotomy Ludloff, Cresentic, SCARF, medial opening wedge) with with great toe soft-tissue tightening (medial capsular tightening and distal soft-tissue repair). Lapidus hallux valgus correction (first tarsometatarsal joint fusion) with distal soft tissue procedure. Great Toe Fusion (1st MTP joint arthrodesis). Akin osteotomy (Realignment bone cut at the base of the big toe). Removal of the medial eminence with suture stabilization of the first and second metatarsals. Keller joint arthroplasty (removal of the proximal aspect of the proximal phalanx).


Prevention
Because bunions develop slowly, taking care of your feet during childhood and early adulthood can pay off later in life. Keep track of the shape of your feet as they develop over time, especially if foot problems run in your family. Exercising your feet can strengthen them. Learn to pick up small objects, like a pencil or pebble, with your toes. Wear shoes that fit properly and don’t cramp or pinch your toes. Women should avoid shoes with very high heels or pointed toes.

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