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What is a bunion?

A bunion is medically referred to as hallux abducto valgus, which basically describes a deformity of the joint of the big toe. A bunion will appear as a hard lump on the outside of the big toe, this is actually the head of the first metatarsal which has moved out of position, the big toe (hallux) has therefore moved outwards (abducted) into a valgus position.

What causes a bunion?

A bunion may develop for the following reasons:
  • Genetics; bunions often run in families
  • Poor foot posture (poor biomechanics)
  • Arhridities (e.g. osteoarthritis, gout, rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Ill-fitting footwear
  • Broad feet
A number of connective tissue and neuromuscular conditions can increase the chance of developing a bunion. When a bunion occurs due to a connective tissue or neuromuscular condition it is because of either flexible joints and/or a reduction in muscle tone, or, loose ligaments.

Connective tissue and neuromuscular conditions that can lead to the formation of hallux abducto valgus (bunion) include:
  • Ligamentous laxity
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Downs syndrome
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Marfans syndrome

What would podiatry for bunions involve?

The start of any podiatric assessment at Manchester Podiatry begins with a thorough medical and social history. One of our podiatrists will then examine the foot and the bunion itself. Using the information gained from both the assessment and the examination your podiatrist will discuss with you the bunion treatment options most suitable for you, which may include:

If your bunion is painful due to pressure caused by footwear, then applying a specialised pad to the bunion will help to absorb that pressure. A pad may be recommended by your podiatrist to act as a shock absorber; the idea is that the pad will absorb the pressure exerted on the bunion caused by footwear instead of the big toe joint.

Orthoses (shoe inserts)
Orthoses may prevent a bunion from worsening by improving the function of the foot and lower limb. Orthoses may also help to relieve any pain by redistributing pressure away from the painful join.

Footwear modification
If footwear is deemed to be exacerbating your bunion formation then the podiatrists at Manchester Podiatry will discuss this with you, providing you with information and advice on footwear and the shoes most suitable for you.

Steroid injection therapy
A steroid injection may be prescribed if you have a painful bunion along with a bursitis (inflammation of a fluid filled sac that sits on top of a joint and lubricates it). A steroid injection is a powerful anti-inflammatory, it will therefore reduce the inflammation associated with the bursitis and as a result alleviate your painful symptoms.

If your bunion is very painful then surgery to correct the deformity may be recommended.

Injection therapy for bunions

An injection using cortisone which is a steroid can help to relieve the painful symptoms associated with a bunion such as bursitis or capsulitis. Steroids are powerful anti-inflammatories; as a result a steroid injection will reduce inflammation and therefore any painful symptoms that are experienced as a result of that inflammation. The steroid injection is injected at the site of the bunion, as a result the effects are local to that area and there are no effects on the rest of the body.

What should I do if I have a bunion?

If you have a bunion and you would like some information or advice on what treatment options are most suitable and available to you, then our podiatrists here at Manchester Podiatry are happy to help.

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