Bunions, aka 'Hallux Abducto Valgus' deformity, can be described as an outward deviation of the first toe (big toe) towards the 2nd toe.
This deviation can vary from mild cases, where there is a slight bump on the outside of the big toe joint to severe cases, where the 2nd toe can actually overlap the big toe and the big toe joint becomes much more prominent, making it extremely painful to walk, run or even wear shoes.
The main cause of a bunion is instability in the joint causing it to change its position and the position of the muscles, ligaments and bones involved with the joint.
Some causes of instability within the joint are:
o rheumatoid arthritis
o poor foot mechanics
o flat feet (rolling in too much)
o big toe joints that sit too far back
o excessively flexible joints
o very wide feet
Tight, narrow and/or pointed shaped shoes can certainly make the condition worse.
Podiatrists can help identify the underlying cause of the bunion and provide conservative treatment to prevent further complications such as arthritis, joint pain and further deformity, especially if the condition begins to present itself in adolescence.
In some cases, more invasive treatments (like surgery) are indicated, but this usually occurs as a last resort.
There are several options that podiatrists can discuss with you to help reduce pain & discomfort from this deformity, conservatively.