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Bunions - (Hallux Valgus)
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Bunions - (Hallux Valgus)
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Bunions, referred to in the medical community as Hallux Valgus, are one of the most common forefoot problems. A bunion is a prominent bump on the inside of the foot around the big toe joint. Your big toe joint becomes enlarged, forcing the toe to crowd against your other toes. This puts pressure on your big toe joint, pushing it outward beyond the normal profile of your foot, and resulting in pain. Bunions can also occur on the joint of your little toe (bunionette).

Bunions can occur for a number of reasons, but the most common cause is wearing shoes that fit too tightly. They can also develop as a result of injury, stress on your foot or another medical condition.

Often, treatment involves conservative steps that may include changing your shoes, padding your bunion and wearing shoe inserts. Severe cases may require surgery to relieve the pain.

Causes 

Bunions form when the normal balance of forces exerted on the joints and tendons of your foot is disrupted. This can lead to instability in the big toe joint (first metatarsophalangeal or MTP joint), causing a deformity. Bunions develop over years of abnormal motion and pressure to your big toe joint. They result from faulty foot development caused by the way you walk, your inherited foot type or shoes that fit improperly. The most common cause of a bunion is wearing shoes that are too tight.

Other causes of bunions include foot injuries, congenital deformities and neuromuscular disorders, such as cerebral palsy or post-polio syndrome (post-poliomyelitis). Bunions may be associated with various forms of arthritis, causing the protective cartilage that covers your big toe joint to deteriorate. An occupation that puts extra stress on your feet also can be a cause. Waitresses, factory workers, dancers and athletes often are more prone to developing bunions.

Risk factors

These factors may increase your risk of bunions:

  • High heels. Women are at higher risk of developing bunions because many women wear high-heeled shoes. Wearing high heels forces your toes into the front of your shoes.

  • Ill-fitting shoes. People who wear shoes that are too tight, too narrow or too pointed are more susceptible to bunions.

  • Flatfeet. People with flatfeet or low arches are more prone to developing bunions.

  •  Arthritis. Older adults are more susceptible to bunions because of the higher incidence of arthritis affecting the big toe joint.

  • Heredity. Although bunions tend to be inherited, it's the foot type that's passed down and not the actual bunion. People who suffer from poor foot mechanics can pass their problematic foot type on to their children, who also may become prone to developing bunions.

 

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Last Modified : 03/14/08 07:10 PM