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All About Feet: Bunions

Here is another common foot problem--bunions. A bunion is essentially a bony bump that begins to form at the base of the big toe.  The exact cause has yet to be determined, but it's thought that genetics may play a role in their formation.  Some experts say that wearing high heels--which forces the front of the foot into the small toe box of the shoe--is another potential cause. Foot injuries or deformities, and some forms of arthritis may also precede bunion formation.

The image above is a good illustration of bunion formation, and how they can become a severe deformity if left unaddressed. Here are some tips that may help to prevent this problem from the get-go:

  • Avoid wearing high heels
  • Steer away from ill-fitting shoes, especially if the toe box is too tight
  • Heredity and/or rheumatoid arthritis may predispose one to bunions; if that's the case, be extra vigilant about the first two tips given here!

Other complications aside from those pictured above include bursitis and hammertoe (something like the "severe side of the image above), and pain and inflammation in the ball of your big toe (metatarsalgia).

Your primary care provider can initiate diagnosis and treatment of bunions; a podiatrist is well trained in this area and might well be the best option for care. Early treatment can be self-initiated--

  • wearing shoes that fit well 
  • padding, taping or splinting (using over the counter products); 
  • usage of ice packs 
  • shoe inserts
If conservative measures as above do not provide adequate relief, surgery is sometimes necessary.

Sources: MayoClinic; Wikimedia


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