2844 Summit Street Suite #107
Oakland, CA 94609

Phone: 510-581-1484
Fax: 510-549-9077

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A bunion is a painful and bony bump that forms on the outside of the joint at the base of your big toe. The bunion forms when the joint of your big toe is forced to get bigger because of constant/consistent pressure, forcing the big toe to push toward the outside of the foot and into its neighboring toe.

It is generally believed that wearing tight, narrow shoes (like high heels) might cause bunions or make them worse, which is why bunions are far more common in women, though men do develop the condition as well. Bunions may also occur because of inherited structural defects in the foot, stress on the foot, or medical conditions such as arthritis.

Bunions develop slowly as the structure of the big toe joint changes and begins to create the bunion bump. In early stages, the deformity starts small and may not be painful or significantly affect a person’s daily life. Over time, the bump will grow and symptoms will worsen.

Signs and symptoms to watch for include:

  • A bulging bump on the outside of the base of the big toe
  • Swelling, redness, or soreness around the big toe joint
  • Hardened skin on the bottom of the foot
  • Corns or calluses — these often develop where the first and second toes overlap
  • Persistent or intermittent pain
  • Restricted movement or stiffness in the big toe, which may lead to difficulty walking

As mentioned previously, experts do not agree on the exact cause of bunions, but they do agree on factors that put a person at additional risk:

  • High heels – Wearing high heels forces your toes into the front of your shoes, often crowding your toes.
  • Ill-fitting shoes – People who wear shoes that are too tight, too narrow, or too pointed are more susceptible to bunions. This is commonly seen in athletic shoes.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – Having inflammatory conditions can make you more susceptible to bunions. Rheumatoid arthritis is a common factor observed in many bunion conditions.
  • Heredity – It is believed that a tendency to develop bunions might be because of an inherited structural foot defect. Many of those who develop the condition have seen the condition in previous generations.

Although they are not always problematic, bunions are permanent unless surgically corrected. Possible complications include:

  • Bursitis – A painful condition that occurs when the small fluid-filled pads (bursae) that cushion bones, tendons, and muscles near your joints become inflamed
  • Hammertoe – An abnormal bend that occurs in the middle joint of a toe and can cause pain and pressure
  • Metatarsalgia – Pain and inflammation in the ball of your foot

Bunions are often preventable. Simply choose proper footwear:

  • Shoes should have a wide toe box — no pointy toes — and there should be space between the tip of your longest toe and the end of the shoe.
  • Shoes should conform to the shape of your feet without squeezing or pressing any part of your foot.

Bunions often do not require medical intervention, but it would be prudent to make a consultation appointment in our Bay Area Foot Care clinic in Oakland if you have:

  • Persistent big toe or foot pain
  • A visible bump on your big toe joint
  • Decreased movement of your big toe or foot
  • Difficulty finding shoes that fit properly because of a bunion

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