In constrictive shoes, the big toe is forced to bend toward the second toe and the first joint of the big toe is moved out of place. To compensate for the realignment, the outside of the joint is increased in size. Tendons then begin to pull the toe into an abnormal position. Over time the change in position becomes painful and permanent. The change in position also causes the mechanics of the toes and foot to be affected. The joint at the base of the big toe carries a lot of weight when walking or running. In a normally shaped foot the position of the big toe helps create a wide base of support and stability. A foot that has had the big toe bent toward the second toe will tend to roll inward. This abnormal pronation, along with the ill-fitting shoes will make the Bunion even worse. If a person has a foot anatomy that is prone to Bunions, wearing footwear with a too-narrow toe box will accelerate the development of a Bunion. Wearing footwear with a wide toe box may help prevent or at least delay the development of Bunions.
There are many factors which can contribute to the development of a bunion. The common causes are genetic factors, poor foot mechanics, high-heeled or narrow footwear and trauma to the toe. It is believed that constant stress on the joint of the big toe causes mild displacement of the bones and the joint, along with thickening of the tissues and a change in the pull of the muscles. This can result in a degree of arthritis of the joint, and over time, further displacement of the toe. This may lead to pain, difficultly with fitting shoes and corns/calloused lesions due to excess pressure on the smaller digits.
Bunions typically start out as a mild bump or outward bending of the big toe. Bunions at this stage are usually only a concern of appearance at this stage, and at this point they often don't hurt much. Over time, the ligaments that connect the bones of the toe stretch out, and the tendons attaching to the big toe gradually pull it farther and farther towards the second toe. Sometimes patients will find their first and second toes begin to press together too much, and they'll often get a painful corn between those toes. As the bunion progresses, the big toe may begin to ride on top of the second toe, or vice versa, creating a second deformity. Others will develop bump pain at the site of the bony enlargement on the side of the foot. A painful bursa may develop at that site. This is particularly true in tight shoes. Many patients also develop a painful callus beneath the foot. Capsulitis and other types of metatarsalgia may develop in the joints beneath these calluses, particularly in the second and third metatarsophalangeal joints (the joints in the ball of the foot). Over time, with the toe held in a crooked position for enough time, arthritis develops in the big toe joint. This will usually result in decreased range of motion of that joint (a condition known as "Hallux Limitis"), which as a result, often causes the patient to changes in the way a patient walks. Often the patient walks in an "out-toed", or duck-like, fashion, which very frequently causes secondary pain in the legs, knee, hip, and low back.
Your doctor will be able to diagnose a bunion by asking about your symptoms and examining your feet. You may also have blood tests to rule out any other medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout, although this is rare. Your doctor may refer you to a podiatrist or chiropodist (healthcare professionals who specialise in conditions that affect the feet).
Non Surgical Treatment
Your podiatrist can recommend exercises, orthoses (special devices inserted into shoes), shoe alterations or night splints (which hold toes straight over night) which may slow the progression of bunions in children. According to experts, ?conservative? measures such as these may help relieve symptoms, though there is no evidence they can correct the underlying deformity. Orthoses are designed to prevent the problem getting worse by decreasing any biomechanical causes of bunions. In other words, if the biomechanical theory is correct (i.e. if your bunions are caused by the way you walk), orthoses may help you walk in a way that doesn?t exacerbate the problem. But it won?t change the already established shape of your foot. For that, you need surgery.
Bunionectomy is a general term that describes a variety of bone and soft tissue procedures that are intended to realign your big toe and reduce the prominence at the base of your big toe. The procedures chosen are based on numerous factors, including measured angular displacement of your involved joints (especially your first MTP joint). The degree of pain you are experiencing. The degree of joint dislocation and cartilage damage within your affected joint. Flexibility of your adjacent joints. Flexibility of soft tissues in your problem area.