A bunion becomes visible when your big toe no longer points straight out but slants inward toward your other four toes. But the cause of that slant isn’t the toe itself. The problem lies within the joint at the base of the toe. Over time, pressure on that joint causes it to move out of alignment, forming a bulge at the base of your toe that we call a bunion. A bunionette, by the way, is the same condition affecting the joint of the pinky toe.
Bunions are inherited…and more
People with certain foot types are prone to getting bunions. That is, the basic structure of your foot may make it more likely that you’ll develop one. And since your inherited genes determine the structure of your foot, if your parents or grandparents had bunions, you’re more likely to get them, too.
Research also shows, however, that other factors influence the development of a bunion. Wearing shoes with narrow toe boxes puts pressure on the big toe joint. Some types of arthritis are thought to accelerate the progression of a bunion, as are certain structural abnormalities such as flat feet.
How we treat them
Bunions can be quite painful. Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm, our board-certified podiatrist, takes your pain seriously is uniquely qualified to manage bunion pain with a variety of treatments including
- Icing the toe
- Recommendations for comfortable shoes
- Prescription-strength pain medication
- Custom orthotics that change the position of your foot and relieve pressure
- Injection of corticosteroids directly into the joint
- Exercises to improve joint mobility
If none of these conservative treatments reduce your discomfort, a bunionectomy could be an option to position the bones back into alignment. Dr. Wilhelm is an experienced foot surgeon who is happy to answer all your questions about bunions and bunion surgery. Give us a call at our office in Centreville, Virginia at (703) 996-3000 or contact us online.