It starts out slowly enough. Your big toe begins to lean over toward your second toe and a small bump appears at the base of the toe. All too soon, the deformity worsens and you have full-on bunions.
When you look down at your feet, you need to realize one important truth — those bunions aren’t going away on their own.
Our extensive and diverse team of medical providers here at LaSante Health Center includes podiatry specialists who have seen their fair share of bunions.
In the following, we take a closer look at this common foot problem. How did it happen? Will it go away on its own? What are the next steps?
The making of a bunion
Also called hallux valgus, a bunion is a bit more complex than just an unsightly and uncomfortable bump at the base of your toe.
In reality, a bunion starts as a problem in your metatarsophalangeal joint (MTP), which is the first joint in your big toe. When this joint is out of balance, the long metatarsal bone in your foot that leads up to your big toe starts to shift toward the inside of your foot.
This then pushes the phalanx bones in your big toe toward the outside of your foot, which is why your big toe starts to migrate toward your second toe.
Making matters even more complicated, the MTP joint tries to offset the imbalance and protect itself by growing extra bone on the inside of the joint, which is what creates the bony protrusion.
There are three main drivers of bunions, which include:
- Poor footwear (pointy toes and high heels, mainly)
- Family history of bunions
- Age — 1 out of 3 people over the age of 65 have some degree of bunions
No matter how the bunions form, the deformity can be painful, especially when there’s inflammation in the bony protrusion.
A progressive condition
The reason we went into the anatomy of a bunion is to illustrate why this condition isn’t so easily reversed. Bunions are progressive, and each shift in the MTP joint is one that won’t simply go away on its own.
One of the best solutions for bunions is to catch them in the early stages so we can take steps to halt the progression. These steps include changing your footwear, joint exercises, and orthotics.
Please note that there are many different products and services out there that claim to be able to reverse bunions nonsurgically. This simply isn’t true. The only option for reversing bunions is surgery.
The good news is that bunion surgery is very common and is performed on an outpatient basis. In fact, in many cases, you can remain mobile with a special walking shoe after the procedure.
There are different surgical approaches to bunions, depending upon the degree of the joint misalignment and bone growth, but each aims to get your big toe back into its original position, without the bony bump at the base.
If you’d like to figure out the best treatment for your bunions, please contact our clinic in Brooklyn, New York, today to schedule an appointment. We serve the Flatbush and East Flatbush, Crown Heights, Park Slope, Little Haiti, Little Caribbean, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens communities.