A bunion is an enlargement of the joint at the base of the big toe (the metatarsal-phalangeal [MTP] joint) that forms when the bone or tissue at the big toe joint moves out of place. This forces the toe to bend toward the others, causing a prominent lump of bone that is often painful.
Bunions are generally progressive in nature, brought about by years of abnormal motion and pressure over the MTP joint. Bunions are most often symptoms of muscle imbalances, the way we walk, inherited foot type and/or shoe gear aggravation. Bunions form when the normal balance of force that is exerted on the joints and tendons of the foot becomes disrupted. This can lead to instability in the joint and cause the deformity.
It is important to see a podiatrist at the first sign of pain or discomfort in the MTP joint to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment. Conservative treatment options for bunions include changing the type/shape of the shoe, orthotic inserts, physical therapy, medications, and using padding, taping and/or bracing to control the symptoms and slow the progression of the deformity. If these options do not improve the condition, then surgical intervention is discussed as the next line of treatment.
Since bunions can be caused by the structure of your foot, bunions may become a reoccurring condition, which is why it’s important to monitor your MTP joint and contact your podiatrist if the pain returns. Fortunately, Cone Health has an exceptional network of podiatrists and related healthcare providers dedicated to treating individuals with foot problems throughout the community.
Dr. Matthew Wagoner is a podiatrist at Triad Foot Center and a member of the Cone Health Medical Group. Dr. Wagoner received a Bachelor of Science in biology in 2007 and his Doctor of Podiatric Medicine from Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine in 2011. His residency training was completed at Temple University Health System in 2015.