Bad things happen when the big toe starts getting too close to its neighbor. Specifically, bunions occur. One of the most common and widespread foot conditions, bunions develop when pressure on the joint of a big toe forces it to lean inward toward the second toe. Bunions can make standing and walking painful and limit the kinds of shoes you can wear. Making matters worse, the pain and prominence of a bunion usually get more extreme over time if left untreated.

According to the 2012 National Foot Health Assessment, approximately 18 million American women and about four million American men report having the condition. But why do so many people develop bunions, and why do so many more women have them than men?

To understand the answer to these questions, you first need to understand bunions, also called hallux valgus. And to understand bunions, you need to understand how your big toe works.

The big toe contains two important joints. The larger of two is the metatarsophalangeal joint (MTP), which connects the first long bone of the foot (the metatarsal) to the first bone of the toe (the phalanx). The MTP joint is where bunions form.

A bunion develops because the MTP joint moves out of its normal alignment, shifting the long metatarsal bone towards the inside of the foot while also angling the phalanx bones of the big toe towards the second toe.  

As time progresses, a painful bony bump that appears red and swollen will emerge at the site of the joint on the inside of the foot. You may first notice that bump only after months or years of the big toe working its way inward.

What causes the big toe to start pushing inward and a painful bunion to start pushing outward. For many people, genetics plays a role; if one of your parents developed a bunion, you’ll have a higher chance of experiencing the condition as well. Additionally, common inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis can also cause bunions.

But the reason that bunions disproportionately develop in women is quite simple: footwear. Many fashionable styles of shoes, like those with a narrow, pointed toe box, can sueeze the toes into an unnatural position and put severe pressure on the toe joint. Years of such extreme pressure and awkward positioning ultimately take their toll.

Fortunately, there are several treatment options for bunions, ranging from at-home remedies that can alleviate pain and pressure to minimally invasive or traditional bunion surgery for more severe and advanced cases that can fix the underlying joint problem once and for all.

Is a Bunion Slowing You Down? Call JAWSpodiatry Today to Schedule an Appointment

At JAWSpodiatry in Hollywood, Florida, we utilize the most advanced and non-invasive techniques to reduce pain and speed recovery for individuals suffering from bunions and other foot and ankle problems. If you’d like to learn more about the innovative and effective treatments we provide or how we can help you with your foot and ankle issues, please call us today at (954) 922-7333 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.