At FL Foot Health, we find that most people know how to recognize a bunion by its telltale bump at the base of the big toe. Often, however, patients don’t know much about the causes or treatment of this common condition. Below are some frequently asked questions (and answers) about bunions.
What actually causes a bunion? The large bump that is visible with a bunion is an enlargement of the joint at the base of the toe that occurs when the toe joint moves out of place. The reason this happens is most often faulty foot mechanics—a structural defect in the foot causes the normal balance of forces to be disrupted and the joint to move out of place.
Are bunions hereditary? The bunions themselves are not hereditary, but the defective foot structure that causes them can be. Other possible causes include:
In addition, having an occupation that puts excess stress on the feet such as a dancer or professional athlete can increase your risk of developing a bunion, as can wearing shoes with narrow toe boxes that squeeze the toes together.
Do bunions need to be treated? You should have a bunion evaluated by your podiatrist as soon as you notice it forming. If you need to find an experienced podiatrist in your area, use our online directory. The foot doctor will want to examine your feet and get a medical history. X-rays or other imaging studies may also be ordered to determine the extent of the bunion and to have as a baseline measurement. Bunions are a progressive condition and usually get worse over time.
What types of treatment are available for bunions? The podiatrist has a number of conservative treatment options available including: padding and taping to reduce pain and prevent corns from forming where the bunion rubs up against your shoes, physical therapy and custom orthotics to help correct foot structure issues. If these fail or the bunion progresses to a point where it is impairing your daily functioning, a surgical procedure may be necessary.