The big toe of the foot is known as the hallux. The big toe connects to the forefoot area (metatarsal bone) through a joint. Normally these two bones and the joint in between are well aligned, with a small angulation between them.
What is a bunion?
A bunion or hallux valgus is the deformity present between the hallux or big toe and its corresponding metatarsal bone, thus creating a painful prominence towards the internal side of the foot. The bunion deformity is called in medical terms hallux valgus. A hallux valgus is commonly related to the use of tight shoe wear, where the shoe pushes against the big toe against the second toe. This deformity is more frequently found in women; there is also a familial tendency. Some inflammatory pathologies, such as rheumatoid arthritis can originate hallux valgus.
A hallux valgus, besides creating a prominence, causes pain and inflammation around the base of the big toe. If the big toe, when deformed, pushes against the second toe, a callus can develop over the second toe when this last one is risen up and rubs against the shoe. In other cases the hallux valgus doesn’t cause any symptoms except difficulty finding an adequate shoe to wear.
There is an important genetic component in this deformity that cannot be modified. Anyway, the chance of developing this deformity can be decreased using always comfortable shoes, with a wide toe-box area so that the toes are not pushed by the sides or the front. The use of too high-heeled shoes should be avoided (i.e. more than 4 cms).
Your orthopedic surgeon will evaluate you and determine if you have a hallux valgus; x-rays will be taken to determine the site of the deformity and the possible solutions to it. A conservative treatment can be undertaken which will consist in shoe modifications or the use of certain cushioning devices. Depending on the severity of your symptoms and the toe deformity, a surgery may be needed to correct it.
The surgery will include soft tissue and bony procedures to correct the deformity and alleviate pain. In general, nowadays the surgical solution to hallux valgus provides up to 95% of excellent and good results. Your surgeon will explain to you the surgical details, postoperative rehabilitation and possible complications.
-Clinica Alemana has foot and ankle surgeons trained in the U.S. and in Europe, which will offer you the best treatment and care for your condition.
-Brochure prepared by the Foot and Ankle team of the Orthopedics and Traumatology Department of Clinica Alemana.