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Bunion

A bunion is a bone protrusion in the big toe, where the big toe is bent an abnormal angle and "drifts" or leans inward towards the second toe.

Bunions occur when pressure is applied to the side of the big toe (hallux) forcing it inwards towards, and sometimes under or over, the other toes (angulation). As pressure is applied, the tissues surrounding the joint may become swollen and tender. In a survey of people from cultures that do not wear shoes, no cases of bunions were found, lending credence to the hypothesis that bunions are caused by ill-fitting shoes.

Who it affects: 
People who wear shoes long-term, particularly tight-fitting shoes and/or shoes with pointed toes. Some people are more genetically prone to bunions.
Symptoms: 

The symptoms of bunions include irritated skin around the area, pain when walking, joint redness and pain, and possible shift of the big toe toward the other toes. Blisters may form more easily around the site of the bunion as well.

Having bunions can also make it more difficult to find shoes that fit properly; bunions may force a person to have to buy a larger size shoe to accommodate the width the bunion creates. When bunion deformity becomes severe enough, the foot can hurt in different places even without the constriction of shoes because it then becomes a mechanical function problem of the forefoot.

Treatment: 
Bunions may be treated conservatively with changes in shoe gear, different orthotics (accommodative padding and shielding), rest, ice, and medications. These sorts of treatments address symptoms more than they correct the actual deformity. Surgery, by an orthopedic surgeon or a podiatric surgeon, may be necessary if discomfort is severe enough or when correction of the deformity is desired.
Image Credit: 
Image by Dr Henri Lelièvre; used under Creative Commons license.