Bunions (hallux valgus/varus)

A bunion is a bony, abnormal bump that manifests at the joint on the bottom of the big toe. This joint becomes enlarged, forcing all the toes on the foot to crowd together. This will, in turn, put pressure on the big toe joint, and push it outward and beyond the regular profile of the foot. This can result in pain and agitation.

Bunions occur for several reasons, but the most common cause is wearing tightly fitting shoes. Bunions can also occur as the product of an genetically inherited structural defect, tension or stress on the foot, or could result from a medical affliction such as arthritis.

Often times, treatment will involve conservative steps which may include switching to more comfortable shoes, padding the bunion, or wearing shoe inserts. In the most severe cases, bunion relief may come only in the form of surgery.

Picture of a Bunion

colorado foot institute bunions

What Causes Bunions?

Bunions are usually caused by a genetically inherited malfunction within the foot’s structure. The actual bunion itself is not inherited, but particular foot types are what give patients this predisposition to bunion development.

Although wearing constraining footwear that cause the toes to crowd together won’t be the original cause of the bunions, it can make the affliction progressively worse. This means you will experience the symptoms much quicker.

Bunion Symptoms

Symptoms most often occur when wearing ill-fitting shoes that cause the toes to crowd together. This is the most likely explanation as to why women are develop bunions more often than men. Additionally, standing for extended durations may aggravate the symptoms.

Bunion Symptoms may include:

  • Irritated, red, or calloused skin on the inner edge of your big toe
  • A bony protrusion on the big toe
  • Pain or discomfort over the joint, that is aggravated by the pressure caused by shoes
  • When the big toe turns outward toward other toes

Diagnosis

The presence of a bunion is very apparent. The protrusion at the bottom of the big toe is clearly visible. To completely evaluate the current state of your condition, Dr. Mechanik would take x-rays to assess the severity of the deformity and determine the full extent of the changes to the foot.

Due to the fact that bunions are progressive, a bunion will not go away on its own, and the condition will only worsen with time. Once Dr. Mechanik has performed a full examination of the bunion, treatment plans can be developed to suit your individual needs.

Bunion Treatment

Bunions will often respond well to more conservative treatment such as a change in footwear, different orthotics, ice, rest, and medications. However, these treatments only address symptoms, and don’t actually correct the deformity. Dr. Mechanik will work with you to assess the severity of your condition and determine whether surgery will be necessary.

Orthotics – Orthotics include a varying assortment of conservative measures to alleviate tension upon the toe. These include gelled toe spacers, bunion regulators, bunion/toe separators, and bunion cushions.

Surgery – Procedures are designed to correct various pathologies associated with bunions. For example, procedures might address a combination of:

  • Removal of the bony abnormality located on the big toe
  • Realignment of the big toe in relation to the adjacent toe
  • Straightening the big toe in relation to the adjacent toes
  • Realignment of the cartilaginous surfaces within the big toe’s joint
  • Addressing arthritic changes that are associated with the joint of the big toe
  • Repositioning of the sesamoid bones, which are located beneath the big toe
  • Lengthening, shortening, lowering, or raising the big toe
  • Correcting any abnormal arching or misalignment inside the big toe

The age, lifestyle, activity level, and health of the person may also help determine the procedure.

Spinal, local, and general anesthetics are all available for bunion surgery.The most popular type of anesthesia, tends to be the less invasive form known as local anesthesia. Four to six weeks is the average recovery time after such a procedure and during that beginning of that time crutches may be needed to aid in mobility.

We Can Help You

As director of the Colorado Foot Institute, Dr. Mechanik is Board Certified in Foot Surgery and Board Certified in Reconstructive Rear Foot and Ankle Surgery. He has the medical and surgical skills to treat your foot conditions. He and his family are natives of the Denver area.

Dr. Mechanik received his Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) from the the Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine which is part of the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, a national leader in medical education.

Dr. Mechanik then went on to complete a twenty-four month post-graduate residency training program in Foot and Ankle Surgery and also completed a twenty-four month surgical fellowship program in Lower Extremity Musculoskeletal Surgery.

Dr. Mechanik is a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons and a  Diplomate, American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery.

Call us and start feeling better! (303) 333-3383