A bunion, also known as hallux valgus, is a bony prominence of the big toe, which often results in pain. A bunion can change the shape of your foot, make it difficult for you to find shoes that fit correctly.
Although it is not clearly understood why bunions occur, possible causes include:
- Family history and genetics
- Arthritis including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and gout
- Neuromuscular conditions such as cerebral palsy
- Connective tissue disorders such as Marfan's syndrome
Signs and Symptoms
- Pain and swelling over the big toe that increases while wearing shoes
- Swelling with red, sore and calloused skin at the base of the big toe
- Sore skin over the toe
- Difficulty in walking and wearing shoes
Your GP may have already initially recommended conservative treatment measures with the goal of reducing or eliminating your foot pain.
Such measures can include:
- Medications for relieving pain and inflammation
- Wearing shoes with a wide and high toe box,
- Padding of bunions
- Ice applications several times a day
Conservative treatment measures can help relieve the discomfort of a bunion, however, these measures will not prevent the bunion from progressing.
Surgery is the only means of correcting a bunion. Surgery is also recommended when conservative measures fail to treat the symptoms of a bunion.
There are many surgical options to treat a bunion. The common goal is to realign the bones in the foot, correct the deformity, and relieve pain and discomfort. Your surgeon will make an incision along your big toe and open up the joint capsule to expose the bump.
Risks and Complications
As with any surgery, bunion surgery involves certain risks. They include:
- recurrence of the bunion
- nerve damage
- unresolved pain and swelling
- Joint stiffness or restricted movement
- Delayed healing
Patients should follow all instructions given by the surgeon following the surgery. These include:
- Keep your dressings dry and leave them in place until your next outpatient appointment.
- Minimize walking where possible.
- Elevate the foot to minimize swelling as much as possible for the first 6 weeks.
- You will have to wear specially designed post-operative shoes
- You may not be able to wear regular shoes for 6 weeks