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Bunion Symptoms

A bunion is a bony bump that forms most commonly on the joint at the base of the big toe. Bunions are caused by pressure forcing of the big toe inward and squeezing the smaller toes into an abnormal position.

Women report bunion symptoms more often than men. Some studies suggest that women are nearly 10 times more likely to experience bunion symptoms. Bunions develop gradually as a result of uneven pressure on the joints and tendons of the feet. This pressure causes the joint to be unstable, resulting in an eventual realignment and the formation of hard knob at the base of the joint.

As pressure from the bearing and shifting of weight frequently falls on the big toe, the most common visual bunion symptom is the dramatic inward direction of the big toe, which crowds the other toes.

Risk factors for the development of bunions include foot injury, an abnormal formation of the foot at birth, nerve conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, and repetitive strenuous motion. Tight-fitting or high-heeled shoes create additional pressure on the foot and may exacerbate existing factors. This may be the reason that bunion symptoms are common among ballet dancers.

Additional symptoms of a bunion to look for include:

  • Swelling, redness or soreness around the big toe joint
  • Thickening of the skin at the base of the big toe
  • Corns or calluses — these often develop where the first and second toes overlap
  • Persistent or intermittent pain
  • Restricted movement of the big toe

The severity of bunion symptoms varies widely, but pain from a bunion can be strong enough to inhibit normal mobility.

For moderate bunion symptoms non-surgical treatments involve simply resting the foot by avoiding excessive walking and wearing wider shoes or sandals that provide support while not rubbing against the foot. Additionally, over the counter anti-inflammation medications, such as Aspirin or ibuprofen, can help to ease inflammation and pain. Application of a cold pack can also be helpful.

For persisting pain from bunion symptoms, a surgical operation is available from a cosmetic podiatrist.

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