Bunion is an enlarged inner portion of the joint at the base of the big toe. This generally happens due to a misalignment of the toe joint or additional bone formation. The misalignment causes the toe to point outward and over time the malformation increases. The enlarged joint can get inflamed with redness, swelling and chronic pain. Very rarely, a less common bunion occurs at the base of the smallest toe and this is known as tailors bunion or bunionette.
While there is no specific cause of developing a bunion, genetic factors cannot be ignored. Especially in young individuals, a bunion development is often related to abnormal biomechanics that lead to instability of the metatarsal phalangeal joint and muscle, resulting in the defect. Incorrect shoes do not cause bunions, but surely make them more painful. Some other least common causes are trauma through sprains or fractures, limb-length discrepancies and neuro-muscular disorders.
A common symptom of bunions is foot pain during movement or wearing shoes. Chronic pain can be the first stage of sever bunions that can develop into arthritis.
The anatomy of the foot is assessed with the help of a radiograph X-ray machine which helps determine the integrity of the foot join and also screens for other conditions like arthritis.
Non-surgical treatments include rest and wearing loose shoes to relieve the pain. Anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen, acetylsalicylic acid and naproxen or a local injection of cortisone can help relieve inflammations and pain. Many times doctors recommend basic stretching exercises to reduce tension. Applying an ice-cold pack would also be helpful. Depending upon the structure of the foot, custom made insole orthotics can also be purchased. For severe bunions, a surgical operation maybe considered.
The treatment described above can effectively treat bunions with excellent prognosis. However, the accurate diagnosis is required to understand the underlying structural defect and its severity. Moreover, bunions are a progressive defect that can get worse over time and is best to get it checked and assessed by a doctor at the earliest.
If the issue has been diagnosed at an early stage of life, bunion development can be slowed down with appropriate shoe gear like customized shoe soles or inserts. Moreover, physical activities that put pressure on the toe must also be avoided.
A bunion surgery can cost an average of $3000 to $4700, depending upon the complexity of the procedure and the residence state. The cost includes the physician fee, post surgery operative fee, other facility service and anesthesia service.