Bunions (a.k.a hallux valgus) is a common condition in the Western world. In Latin, hallux valgus means ‘bit toe’ ‘turning outward’, and a bunion looks just like that on an x-ray: it looks like a bit of your toe is poking out.
But a bunion is more than a bump—it’s a complex deformity of the first toe. The first metatarsal turns inward and rotates, and the toe moves outward. The ‘bump’ you feel is a combination of bone and soft tissue.
What causes a bunion?
- Genetics: Does your mother or father have a bunion? Did Grandma have toe deformities she didn’t want you to see? Genetics play a strong factor in causing a bunion.
- Fashionable shoes: Yes, high-heeled shoes that are narrow at the toes cause and worsen bunions. Therefore, bunions are much more common in the Western world and in women.
- Juvenile bunion: Some patients have had a bunion since adolescence. This is due to an abnormality in the alignment of the first toe.
Why do bunions hurt?
- Mainly, the big toe isn’t doing its job anymore. The first toe supports up to 50% of the force in the foot, and when it’s abnormal, it causes the rest of the foot to support that force.
- Also, the forefoot becomes wider, causing increased pressure in shoes and pain.
- Arthritis: some people develop degeneration of the joint, which makes the pain even worse.
Every bunion deformity is unique and requires diagnosis by a physician. At Southwest Orthopedic Group, we work to customize bunion treatment to each patient.
The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) has more information about bunions at FootCareMD.
For more questions or to set up an evaluation, contact Dr. Stautberg’s office at 281-977-4870.