The terms “hallux valgus” or “hallux abducto-valgus” are the most commonly used medical terms associated with a bunion anomaly.
“Hallux” refers to the great toe, “valgus” refers to the abnormal angulation of the great toe commonly associated with bunion anomalies while “abductus/-o” refers to the abnormal drifting or inward leaning of the great toe towards the second toe, which is also commonly associated with bunions.
It is important to state that “hallux abducto” refers to the motion of the great toe as it moves away from the body’s midline.
In more severe cases, the hallux continuing in the abductus fashion eventually either overlaps or underlaps subsequent smaller toes, especially the adjacent toe.
Signs and symptoms
The symptoms of bunions include irritated skin around the bunion, pain when walking, joint redness and pain, and possible shift of the big toe toward the other toes.
Blisters may form more easily around the site of the bunion as well.
Having bunions can also make it more difficult to find shoes that fit properly; bunions may force a person to buy a larger sized shoe to accommodate the width the bunion creates.
When bunion deformity becomes severe enough, the foot can hurt in different places even without the constriction of shoes because it then becomes a mechanical function problem of the forefoot.
Bunions are sometimes genetic and consist of certain tendons, ligaments and supportive structures of the first metatarsal that are positioned differently.
This bio-mechanical anomaly may be caused by a variety of conditions intrinsic to the structure of the foot — such as flat feet, excessive flexibility of ligaments, abnormal bone structure and certain neurological conditions.
These factors are often considered genetic.
Although some experts are convinced that ill-fitting footwear is the main cause of bunion formation, other sources concede that footwear only exacerbates the problem caused by the original genetic structure.
Bunions are commonly associated with a deviated position of the big toe toward the second toe, and the deviation in the angle between the first and second metatarsal bones of the foot.
The small sesamoid bones found beneath the first metatarsal (which help the flexor tendon bend the big toe downwards) may also become deviated over time as the first metatarsal bone drifts away from its normal position.
Arthritis of the big toe joint, diminished and/or altered range of motion and discomfort with pressure applied to the bump or with motion of the joint, may all accompany bunion development.
Atop of the first metatarsal head either medially or dorso-medially, there can also arise a bursa that when inflamed (bursitis), can be the most painful aspect of the process.
Bunions may be treated conservatively with changes in shoe gear, different orthotics (accommodative padding and shielding), rest, ice and medication.
These sort of treatments address symptoms more than they correct the actual deformity.
Surgery, by an orthopedic surgeon trained in foot and ankle surgery, may be necessary if discomfort is severe enough or when correction of the deformity is desired.