Plenty of us have them and nobody likes them. Bunions (hallux valgus) not only look unsightly, they fill our lives with pain. They make us think twice about what size shoes to buy to avoid the crowding. While plenty of people just “live with it”, there are many reasons you might want to see a doctor if you have bunions.
What Is a Bunion?
A bunion is a deformity of the foot that develops when the big toe pushes outward against the other toes. This forces the big toe joint out and away from the toes and the first metatarsal moves inward. As a result, the big toe joint enlarges, which can cause crowding of your toes and considerable pain.
Most bunions have the same symptoms: the bump at the base of the big toe, soreness in this area, corns or callus formation, pain that comes and goes and an inability to move the big toe freely.
What Causes Bunions?
About 30% of people in Westernized countries develop bunions. More women than men, approximately 90%, get bunions, but men can also have them. About 80% of bunion cases run in families and are typically related to hereditary factors from the maternal-side of the patient. Here are some generally accepted causes for bunion formation:
- Poorly fitting shoes: This is the leading cause of bunions. High heeled shoes and shoes that are too tight are the usual culprits.
- Genetics: The type of foot you inherit can make you prone to bunions, which do sometimes have a tendency to run in families.
- Injuries: Certain foot injuries can lead to bunion formation or acceleration of already existing bunions.
- Arthritis: Different types of arthritis can cause bunion problems. When this happens, the cartilage that protects your big toe can deteriorate.
When Should You Seek Medical Advice?
If your symptoms progress and you find any of the following to be true, you should see a doctor if:
- You experience pain that persists in the big toe or foot.
- You have a visible bump on the big toe joint.
- You have more and more trouble finding comfortable shoes.
- You experience difficulty moving your big toe or foot.
You should at least come to get a baseline evaluation, possible x-rays, and more information about ways to decrease the progression of your bunion deformity. Only a qualified, licensed Philadelphia podiatrist can offer you the kind of help you need to deal with bunions. At Healthmark Foot and Ankle Associates, our primary goal is to help you find physical relief as quickly as possible. We have two convenient locations in Media and Phoenixville with three full-time Board-Certified podiatrists.
With over 40 years combined experience in treating all foot and ankle conditions, we can offer you personalized, up-to-date foot care. Don’t wait to call us. Start prevention and treatment today.