Bunions: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
A bunion is a swelling that forms on the outside of the big toe. This foot deformity is the result of years of pressure on the big toe joint (metatarsophalangeal or MTP joint). Eventually, the toe joint flattens out and a bony swelling forms. Bunions can form in one or both legs. The scientific term for a bunion is hallux abducto valgus. Foot problems are more common in older people, especially women.
Types of Bunions
The most common type is the big toe bunions. Other types of bunions include:
- Congenital bunion:Some babies are naturally born with bunions.
- Adolescents or Juvenile bunion:Adolescents and teens between the ages of 10 and 15 may develop bunions.
- Tailor's bunion:This bunion, also called bunionette, forms on the outer base of the little finger.
Causes and Risk factors of Bunions
It is widely believed that bunions are genetic. They arise due to an inherited faulty foot structure. Some of the conditions that contribute to the development of bunions are flat feet, overly flexible ligaments, and abnormal bone structure. Some experts believe that ill-fitted shoes cause bunions.
Anyone can get bunions, but in general, the following risk factors can increase your risk of developing bunions:
- Wear heels that push your toes in front of your shoe.
- Wear tight shoes that are too tight or pointy.
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Having a family history of problems with the structure or anatomy of your foot.
Bunions are more common in women, possibly due to pressure on the feet by high heels and other tight shoes but shoes that sacrifice comfort for style aren't the only reason for the condition. Bunions can also be caused by health problems that affect the feet, including gout and psoriatic arthritis. People with connective tissue disorders such as Marfan syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, as well as those with Down syndrome, may be at increased risk of developing bunions. Men can also get bunions.
Symptoms of Bunions
Bunions develop when pressure on the big toe joint causes the big toe to tilt toward the second big toe.
Eventually, the bone structure of the big toe changes, resulting in a bunion. This deformity gradually gets worse and can cause pain when wearing shoes or walking.
Although bunions are usually small and tend to grow slowly. However, wearing tight shoes can cause the bunion to enlarge. The bigger the bunion, the more painful and difficult it is to walk.
Symptoms of bunions include the following:
- Pain in the big toe joint, which is worse when wearing tight shoes.
- Problems with walking or moving the big toe normally.
- Inflamed (red and thickened) skin on the outer edge of the big toe.
- Numbness in big toe.
- Burning sensation.
- Calluses where the toes rub together.
As the disease gets worse, they can significantly change the appearance of your feet. With a severe bunion, your big toe may bend under or above your second toe.
Pressure from the big toe can force the second toe out of a straight line and bend it at an angle to the third toe. Calluses can develop where toes rub together, causing additional discomfort and difficulty in walking.
How to prevent Bunions?
Not all bunions can be prevented and they can form due to genetic factors. However, the following ways can help reduce the chances of developing a bunion.
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Avoid ill fitted shoes or high heels.
- Relax your feet whenever you can.
Exercises to treat Bunions
Yes, the exercises that can relieve bunion pain and strengthen the muscles in your feet are-
It works on the toe joints by flexing the muscles under your feet. Sit on a surface with your feet about 6 inches off the floor. Point and slowly curl your toes. Do 20 repetitions for 2 to 3 sets.
When sitting, place your feet on the floor. Lift your heels and transfer most of your weight to the joints of your feet. Hold 5 seconds and return to the floor. Repeat 10 times on each leg.
Figure eight curls-
This exercise is similar to toe rotation, but you move your toe in a figure eight motion, not in a circle. It promotes flexibility and freedom of movement. Repeat 8 times on each toe for 3 to 4 sets.
Towel grip and pull-
Place a small towel or hand towel on the floor. Sit down and grab a towel with your toes and pull it towards yourself. Use only your toes to squeeze the towel. Repeat this movement for up to 5 minutes.
Place a tennis ball on the floor and place your feet on it. Roll your foot back and forth on the ball. Repeat this motion on each leg for 3 to 5 minutes, even if the bunion is only on one leg.
It mobilizes the toe joints and helps reduce stiffness while sitting on a chair, bend over and hold your big toe. Begin rotation of your toes clockwise 20 times. Stop and rewind for another 20 laps. Do 2 to 3 sets on each toe.
When sitting, place your feet on the floor. Keep your heels on the floor, lift and spread your toes. Repeat this exercise 10 to 20 times on each leg.
Home remedies for Bunions
It is especially effective for painful bunions. Massage daily for 10-15 minutes with a little warm olive oil on the affectedarea. This increases blood flow to the area, causing the synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints, to move smoothly and dissolve excess calcium of the bunions.
Rub the bunion with a clove of garlic, which is rich in antioxidants, antifungal and antibacterial properties, cover with a large bandage and leave overnight. Do this every day until it provides relief in bunion.
Castor oil has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the swelling of your bunion. It is also very effective in relieving pain. Heat some castor oil, dip a towel in it and wrap it around the affectedarea. Cover the hot compress with a towel to prevent heat from escaping. Repeat daily until the pain subsides.
The acid in vinegar can help soften tough skin. It also has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Mix vinegar with water and apply the solution to the affected area and cover with a bandage. Leave it overnight and gently exfoliate in the morning. When you're done, apply moisturizer to the area. Do this every day until the bunion is gone.
When to see a doctor?
Bunions often don't require medical attention, see your doctor or a foot specialist (podiatrist or orthopaedist) if you notice the following:
- Persistent pain in your big toe or foot.
- Noticeable swelling in the big toe joint.