bunion is an abnormal enlargement at the joint between the foot and the beginning of the
big toe, which is the result of pressure.
What to look for
an angular protrusion at
the side of the foot behind the big toe, sometimes accompanied by hardened skin or a
swelling, redness, unusual
tenderness, or pain at the base of the big toe and in the ball of the foot, especially if
the area becomes shiny and cool to the touch.
A bunion is an unnatural bump
or bend in the bone that forms the ball of the foot at the base of the big toe. The result
is an unsightly swelling at the inside of the foot, sometimes pushing the big toe inward
so it overlaps one or more other toes.
Because a bunion occurs at
the joint where the toe bends in normal walking, your entire body weight rests on it at
each step. While most bunions don't affect normal walking, they can be extremely painful.
Bunions are caused by wearing
shoes which are too tight for your toes. Foot problems typically develop in early
adulthood, becoming more pronounced as the foot spreads with aging. Bunions can be
hereditary and occur along with other problems associated with weak or poor foot
structure, as well as with corns and calluses.
Bunions sometimes develop with arthritis.
Most of the time, bunions are
so obvious from the pain and the unusual shape of the toe that further diagnosis is
Relieving a bunion's
discomfort generally consists of steps to reduce pain and inflammation, followed by
measures to prevent recurrence.
Your doctor may recommend an
over-the-counter pain remedy, or may prescribe a specific medication to relieve the
swelling and inflammation. A warm footbath or spa may also help relieve the immediate pain
and discomfort, as may an analgesic cream containing a chili-pepper extract.
If your bunion isn't
persistently painful and you catch it early, wearing well-made, well-fitting shoes may be
all the therapy you need.
In some cases, a specialist
can prescribe shoes with specially designed insoles and uppers that take the pressure off
affected joints and help the foot regain its proper shape.