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Bunions , or hallux valgus, are a bone deformity at the joint of the big toe. Bunions develop when the big toe begins to point inwards and overlap nearby toes, causing the joint of the big toe to grow larger and become swollen. Bunions can also cause the skin at the base of the big toe to turn red, which results in sometimes being mistaken for a skin disorder. As bunions develop gradually, people soon notice that their big toe is starting to look crooked or unsightly. In some cases, people with bunions may also experience pain when walking and wearing shoes.
In the early stages of this condition, when the big toe is only slightly slanted, there may not be any problems. However, when the big toe begins to severely slant, or in the event that a person continuously wears shoes that are too tight, consistently squeezing the toes together, the pressure exerted on the big toe may begin to produce noticeable symptoms, such as:
Although bunions are not always problematic, if left untreated they can cause further complications including:
Treatment of bunions depends on the severity of the symptoms, pain, and pressure on the patient's toe. Treatment may begin with simple measures such as changing the type of shoes one patient wears, or wearing insoles to help support the affected area. Patients may also be advised to take over-the-counter painkillers, avoid physical activities which aggravate symptoms, or place the affected foot in an ice massage to alleviate pain and swelling.
In the event that these treatment options do not improve symptoms, or if the patient still can’t perform everyday activities without being in pain, then surgery may be needed to rearrange the protruding bone, tendon, and nerves into their correct positions.