Bunions: Are You at Risk?

Close-up Of Bare Feet

Think bunions are just for “little old ladies”? Think again. The truth: Bunions are extremely common in young, active people, both men and women alike. In my practice, it is one of the most common structural foot disorders treated. Most of these patients are working people who are generally “on the go.” Unfortunately, this condition doesn’t just go away and early treatment works best.

What exactly is a bunion? A bunion is a structural problem originating from the big toe causing a bony bump or protrusion. The first long bone in the foot is known as the first metatarsal. This metatarsal starts to deviate in one direction (medially), while the big toe begins to deviate in the opposite direction (laterally). This deviation creates the “bump” which frequently becomes red and swollen over time. This bump is commonly known as the bunion, or medically as Hallux Abducto Valgus. Bunions may become painful and may cause difficulty in wearing certain shoes, or in some cases, can even prevent normal walking.

What causes a bunion? There may be different risk factors for developing a bunion. There could be a genetic predisposition, structural foot type, nerve conditions and congenital disorders all which may lead to further development. Another risk factor could be the shoes we wear. The prevalence in women is much higher than men likely due to wearing high heels, restrictive shoes or shoes without proper support. For many women, there is just no getting out of the stilettos, until … it’s unfortunately, too late!

When and why should I get treated? Aside from them being brazen and unsightly, they can also cause functional problems. Because it’s a structural bone alignment issue, they simply just don’t go away. If it’s already become painful, a visit to your podiatrist is strongly recommended. Prolonging treatment may cause the condition to not only worsen, but may alter gait patterns affecting the way you walk, or possibly causing pain in other joints of the body.

Treatment for bunions has come a long way. It may begin conservatively but could lead to surgery depending on certain factors. There are a lot of myths relating to bunion surgery. Therefore, I strongly encourage you to speak with your podiatrist. If you suspect you have risk factors, or are already experiencing some discomfort or pain, be proactive! It’s better to seek treatment early for the best prognosis and long-term results.

The content provided on this blog by Dr. Pruthi is for general informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional health-care provider.