What is a bunion?
A bunion, also referred to as hallux valgus, is movement of the 1st metatarsal outwards making it protrude at the big toe joint forming a bump or a “bunion”. It is critical to understand that there is no new or extra bone growing at the bunion. It is only the movement of the first metatarsal that is causing the bump. As a result of this deforming movement of the first metatarsal, the big toe start to move towards the second toe. See figure below.
1- It is frequently misdiagnosed:
In clinical practice, various conditions may present with symptoms similar to those of a bunion. Arthritis of the big toe joint, also known as hallux rigidus, can be easily confused with a bunion. Gout frequently affects the big toe joint. It will cause redness and swelling in the joint making it look like an inflamed bunion.
2- There is no relationship between bunions and shoes:
Tight shoes and high heels may exaggerate the symptoms of a bunion, but they are not the actual cause. Genetic inheritance of a specific foot architecture ids the culprit. The most common causes are a tight calf muscle, overpronation and ligamentous laxity.
3- Bunions can become painful if left untreated:
The initial onset of a bunion may not be symptomatic, but as the deformity progresses pain and inflammation will develop. Ignoring it can lead to the bunion increasing in size. If it becomes large enough, the only treatment would be surgical correction.
4- Conservative treatment modalities can work early on:
Non-operative modalities treat the pain and stop the progression of the deformity. These include stretching exercises, pads, splints, custom orthotics or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).