Bunions are extremely painful, bony growths that are found at the base of the big toe where it connects to the foot. This will often force the base of the big toe away from the other toes, while directing to the end of the toe in the opposite direction. As the metatarsal bone is forced outward, it begins to create a large bump. The bump may begin to grow as mineral deposits begin to form around it. This is what creates the bunion. If a bunion begins to appear next to the little toe on the opposite side of the foot, it is referred to as a bunionette. Bunionettes tend to be smaller, but are still just as painful.
Bunions are often caused by wearing shoes that are too small. Women often get bunions due to wearing extremely tight, pointed or high heeled shoes that force the toes into unnatural positions. Bunions can be partly genetic, especially if a person has a family history of deformities that are found in the bones or structure of the feet. While genetics and family history cannot be changed, wearing shoes that fit properly may eliminate much of the pressure placed on the toes. Bunions often begin to form in early adulthood. For that reason, it is extremely important to buy shoes that fit properly during a child's formative years.
Bunions are caused by the protrusion of the first metatarsal bone towards the outside of the foot. In severe cases, the doctor may perform surgery to help restructure the foot so that the pressure is removed from the base of the joint. For mild cases, applying ice packs and using over the counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications may provide sufficient relief. Doctors often recommend being professionally fitted for shoes to prevent any type of pressure or confinement of the toes in the area of the bunion. They may also suggest the use of orthotics to possibly help correct any structural abnormalities or prevent the condition from getting any worse.