A bunion is an enlargement of the base joint of the toe that connects to the foot, often formed from a bony growth or a patch of swollen tissues, and is caused by the shifting of the big toe bone inward towards the other toes. This shift can cause a serious amount of pain and discomfort and the area around the big toe will become inflamed, red, and painful.
Bunions are most commonly formed in people who are already genetically predisposed to them or other kinds of bone displacements. However, even if you do not have a history of this in your family, you can still develop bunions if you are wearing improperly fitting shoes, such as trying to cram your feet into high heels, or by running or walking in a way that causes too much stress on the feet. High heels are a major culprit in the formation of bunions because not only do they push the big toe inward, but your body weight and center of gravity is shifted towards the edge of your feet and your toes, which can cause bone displacement.
Bunions are quickly and easily diagnosed by podiatrists. However, because of their nature, they can appear similar to arthritic conditions or gout, so sometimes a blood test is required to fully diagnose a bunion. A full radiological or x-ray exam could also be done by a podiatrist to examine the bone structure of your feet. One thing that is looked for specifically is an enlargement of that base joint or evidence of the big toe bone being pushed inward.
One of the first things to do if you have bunions is to get a larger, wider shoe that can remove pressure from your toes. This usually means that high heels should be eliminated from use for a period of time to allow the bunion to heel. Oftentimes, eliminating the pressure placed on a bunion is enough to eliminate the pain involved with them, however, pain can persist in some instances and anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed. If the pain is too severe, steroid injections near the bunion or even surgery may be required. Orthotics for shoes may also be prescribed which can alleviate the pain of bunions by removing pressure from them. However, these methods simply stop the pain of bunions but do not correct the problem at its source.
As previously mentioned, surgery may be an option to completely eliminate your bunions. Surgery is done to reposition the toe bones so that they no longer face inward. This can be done by removing a section of bone or by rearranging the ligaments and tendons in the toe to help them align properly. Even after the surgery, it may be necessary to wear protective shoes for a while to ensure that the bunions do not return.