Bunions – What is it and how is it caused? Foot Health
Bunions – What is it and how is it caused?

Your feet help support the weight and foundation of your whole body. It is a crucial part of getting you up and moving daily. With all the work your feet have to do it is no surprise that any foot pain can cause a setback in your daily activities, especially bunions.

What is a bunion?

Bunions can only be formed on the sides of your feet. When looking down at your feet, a bunion can form on the outer side of your big toe and/or the side of your pinky toe. By definition, a bunion that forms on your big toe is referred to as a hallus valgus. Whereas a bunion on the pinky toe is referred to as a tailor’s bunion or a bunionette.

How is it caused?

A bunion on the surface may appear as just a small bump on your foot, but internally the framework of your foot is also changing. Bunions are formed progressively, with your big toe slowly starting to lean inwards towards the second toe rather than pointing straight.

Although bunions can be due to inherited foot type, stress/injuries, and deformities present at birth, other factors might increase your risk of bunions.

  • Shoes – The most common cause of a bunion is wearing shoes that are too tight or shoes that squish your toes together.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – A foot deformity is often the first sign of RA. The autoimmune disorder affects the bones, joints, and ligaments. This in turn causes the structure of the foot to weaken and change its shape.
  • Overpronation – Having a naturally low arch or bearing weight unevenly across your foot when you move can cause your toe joints to be unstable. Overpronation can be corrected with shoes or shoe inserts so you can prevent bunions and other leg problems.
  • Hypermobility – At times the big toe bone just moves more than usual. If it does, it’s easier for it to lose shape and structure, resulting in a bunion.
  • Foot injuries – Damage to the structure of your foot can cause weakness, pain, and change in the structure of the foot.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Bulging bump on the outside base of your big toe.
  • Swelling, redness, or soreness around your big toe joint.
  • Corns or calluses.
  • Ongoing pain or pain that comes and goes.
  • Limited movement of your big toe.

Having a bunion doesn’t always require extensive surgery, tune in next week for our blog on minimally invasive surgery for your bunion.

It is always best to consult your provider to ensure you are getting proper treatment for your bunion. If you have any questions please call Iowa Ortho at 515-247-8400 or request an appointment online.