It is not uncommon for your big toe to lean slightly inward toward your other toes. For some people, however, this can become steadily worse over time, as the toe continues to lean further and further inward. It thereby squishes the other toes, and the base of the big toe is pushed more and more outward from the foot at an angle.
When this outward protrusion forms at the base of the big toe, this is a bunion. This bony lump on the outside of the foot can sometimes be painful, and the unusual shaping of the foot makes it difficult to fit comfortably into shoes.
Different factors can cause bunions to develop. Although surgery is the only way to completely get rid of a bunion, there are steps you can take to reduce the pain or to prevent them from getting worse. Let’s talk about what causes a bunion and what you can do to help alleviate the bunion from developing further.
What Causes Bunions?
Anyone can get a bunion, but they are a particularly common foot deformity in women. Bunions often result from wearing shoes that are too tight, too narrow, pointed, or have a high heel. All of this pressure on the foot can cause inflammation and irritation, and it can squeeze the toes together. Over time, this can force the foot bones into an unnatural shape.
In addition to wearing shoes that are too tight, bunions can be caused by certain medical conditions. These include:
- Osteoarthritis, which causes the cartilage in the joint to deteriorate.
- Polio, which affects nerves and muscles, and can therefore contribute to bunion formation.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the synovium (protective membrane) covering the internal structures of the joints. RA causes the synovium to become inflamed, which causes the cartilage, bones, and tissues to deteriorate, thereby leading to joint malalignment and deformity.
- Gout, which is a type of arthritis that causes sudden and severe joint pain, especially in the foot and during the night. Gout is usually caused by a diet that is rich in meat proteins, fruity drinks, and alcohol – and gout can be minimized by drinking plenty of water.
- Foot injuries, hypermobility (where the big toe moves more than usual), or excessive foot pronation (where the foot rolls inwards excessively, causing uneven weight-bearing).
- Heredity, as bunions can run in families. Some people are more likely to develop bunions due to the shape and structure of their feet, or if their feet have not developed properly before birth.
Orthopedic Foot Care in Maryland
If you have bunions or a foot or ankle condition that is causing discomfort or pain, talk to the doctors here at the Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland. We have several convenient offices located across Maryland, and we can offer on-site diagnostic imaging services and an ambulatory surgical center to promptly evaluate and treat foot and ankle conditions and injuries.
If you would like to learn more about the services we offer or to schedule an appointment, call us today at (410) 644-1880, toll-free at (855) 4MD-BONE (463-2663), or fill out our online request form now. We look forward to seeing you.