Whether we call it hallux abducto valgus, or just refer to its common name of bunion, this foot problem happens quite often—more so in women than in men, and in children as well. You may see the bump by your big toe, but not really understand what is happening. Our staff of podiatrists in Hawthorne not only explains this condition, we can treat it too, so you don’t have to hobble around in pain.
This toe deformity happens as:
- The big toe angles toward the second toe
- The first metatarsal (foot bone) moves outward
- The joint between the two bulges out, forming a visible bump
The bump may rub against your shoes, causing redness and swelling. You may form thick calluses at the base of the joint and the edge of your big toe. As the deformity progresses, you develop a painful big toe joint that is stiff and can’t straighten on its own.
Why They Happen
Podiatrists generally consider the condition to be the result of the type of foot type you inherit. Certain characteristics make you more likely to develop the problem, such as having flat feet or a longer second toe. The way the bones in your feet move as you walk and run are also factors. Problems with your gait mechanics (such as overpronation) can cause uneven pressure on the toe and force it to move out of position.
Try this: hold your thumb with the fingers of the other hand and push it down and in toward your index finger. See how the joint at the base forms a shallow V shape and begins to jut out? An altered gait can cause your big toe to react the same way from the repeated pressure of your steps as you push off. If you wear shoes that are too tight in the front or high heels that put extra force on the ball of your foot, you speed up the process even more.
What You Can Do for a Bunion
The first steps in treating this toe deformity are conservative in nature. You can get footwear with lower heels that is roomier in the front (make sure it still provides good support). You can try stretches and exercises to keep the muscles conditioned and maintain range of motion in the joint. If you have a gait problem, we can fit you with custom orthotics that may relieve some of the pressure on the toe.
Pain from rubbing against shoes may be alleviated by non-medicated pads, massage, ice therapy, and shoe modifications. We can also recommend a good pain reliever that is safe for you. The problem will continue to get worse as you age, though, so eventually you may need to consider surgery to realign the joint.
When Surgery May Be the Answer
Bunion surgery has advanced a lot in recent years. It is usually done now on an outpatient basis under sedation or twilight sleep. A multitude of different procedures gives us many tools to realign the bones and tighten or release tendons and ligaments. We will take X-rays to determine the exact state of your deformity and help you decide which procedure makes the most sense for your situation.
The new surgical techniques mean better and quicker recoveries, too. With some milder cases and good protection, you can be on your feet again within a few days. Depending on your job, you may even return to work after a week or so. You will usually need to plan at least 3 or 4 weeks of activity limitation until you have healed more fully.
Bunion Treatment in the South Bay Area
If you notice a bump forming by the base of your big toe (or on other toes) don’t wait for it to go away—it won’t without treatment, and the sooner we start the less trouble you will have. Call Far West Podiatric Medical Group at (310) 675-0900 and set up an appointment at our office in Hawthorne, CA. You can also request an appointment using out contact form. Whether you can start treatment with conservative remedies or need surgical correction, trust your feet to our expert podiatrists.