DEFINITION: A bunion is a growth of skin at the joint of the big toe, often a result of enlarged tissue or misaligned bone. In some cases, the bunion may be so extreme that it pushes the big toe inward toward the second toe. Skin and tissue surrounding the joint may experience sensitivity to touch, tenderness and pain.
SYMPTOMS: Symptoms of a bunion include irritated skin, sensitivity to touch, and pain when walking or running. Since the bunion may grow so prominent as to affect the shape of the foot, shoes may no longer fit properly, and blisters may form at the site of friction and pressure. Bunions may grow so large that an individual must wear shoes that are a larger size than they would otherwise wear. If the bunion becomes a severe case, walking may become difficult.
CAUSES: Women are particularly at risk for bunions, as high heels may help aggravate the condition. Bunions may also be caused when bursal sacs sacs that absorb friction and lubricate the many tendons, bones muscles of the body in the foot become inflamed or swollen. Bunions may also be prompted by the metatarsal bone the bone that runs from the heel to the toe of the foot, with one metatarsal bone leading to each toe of the big toe enlarging or deviating slightly to the outside of the foot.
TREATMENTS: Bunions may be treated with proper shoes and corrective inserts such as toe spacers, bunion or toe separators, as well as bunion cushions and splints. In extreme cases, surgery may be needed to remove the bony enlargement of the first metatarsal bone, realigning the bone, or straightening the big toe.