Five Things You Might Not Know About Bunions
Many of us search the Internet when we have a medical condition we would like to learn more about, whether that’s to develop questions for an initial doctor visit or to find sources that shed light on what our health care provider discussed. So if you have a bunion, you’ve likely done some research on the condition and, if you are experiencing pain or changes in activity, possible solutions that may work for you. However, there are some interesting facts about bunions you might not know.
1. A Bunion Isn’t Just a Bump on Your Toe
Although what draws your attention to your bunion is the bump on the side of your toe—along with the pain it may cause—bunions are more than just that hard bump. In fact, a bunion is a musculoskeletal deformity called hallux valgus, which occurs when the 1st metatarsal bone in your big toe rotates out of alignment. This then causes your big toe to lean inward and crowd your other toes, while the head of the bone juts out the other side to cause the characteristic bump.
Bunions are a progressive condition, which means the hallux valgus deformity will become more prominent. Symptoms such as swelling, redness, and pain may increase, too.
Bunions can also lead to other foot conditions if left untreated. These include:
• Bursitis: Painful swelling of the fluid-filled sacs or bursae around the big toe joint
• Arthritis: Refers to many kinds of joint pain and joint disease
• Metatarsalgia: A painful inflammation of the ball of the foot
• Hammertoe: An abnormal downward bend in the middle joint of one of the smaller toes; it can be painful and limit mobility
• Crossover toe: A condition where the second toe begins to drift inward and eventually crosses over the big toe
• Corns and calluses: Thick, hardened layers of skin that develop to help protect your skin from irritation and pressure, like the kind that may be caused by a bunion rubbing against a shoe
Visit About Bunions for more information on these and other conditions that bunions can cause or contribute to.
2. Genetics Contribute to Bunions, But Perhaps Not How You Think
It’s true that certain families tend to have multiple members who suffer from bunions. In one study, over 54% of those surveyed said they had a family history of bunions, while 61.2% reported a history of bunionettes (a bunion on the small toe).¹
But it’s actually foot type—meaning the foot’s shape and structure—and mechanics that are passed down through generations.²𝄒³ If low arches, flat feet, or loose joints and tendons run in your family, you may be more prone to bunions than other people. 3 The shape of the metatarsal bones in your foot could also have an impact on how easily your foot forms a bunion.³
3. Your High Heels Didn’t Cause Your Bunion, But…
Many people know there is a connection between bunions and tight-fitting, narrow, or high-heeled shoes. But while some people think bunions are caused by shoes, that’s not quite correct. Certain kinds of shoes may speed up a bunion’s formation if you are already prone to them, or may make a bunion worse. What is true is that wearing shoes that confine the toe area may also become more and more uncomfortable as a bunion grows.
Shoes have another connection to bunions, too—in addition to the discomfort they may cause, bunion sufferers may be embarrassed about the way their foot looks.
Joanne, an Arthrex Minimally Invasive Bunionectomy patient, was fearful of a second bunion surgery after undergoing a long, painful recovery from traditional bunion surgery in her teens that didn’t have the results she wanted.
“For nearly two decades, I had been worried about covering up my feet. I would have to worry about what types of shoes I'm going to wear if I'm going over to someone's house,” she says.
Loretta, another Arthrex Bunionectomy patient, found it “depressing” not to be able to enjoy her favorite activity of shopping for fashion-forward shoes. Instead, she chose shoes based on comfort and whether they hid her bunion.
“My confidence was affected when I was out with others because I was afraid that they were looking at my feet,” she explained.
4. Bunion Surgery Doesn’t Mean Scars and Stiffness Anymore
Both Joanne and Loretta, along with many other bunion sufferers, endured painful or even unsuccessful traditional bunion surgeries many years ago. Joanne’s recovery after her surgery in the 1990s took months, and her bunion returned 5 or 6 years after her initial surgery.
Loretta underwent traditional “open” surgical bunion correction in 2014 and likewise experienced a long recovery. She still has stiffness in her toe and a long scar on her right foot from that surgery.
Traditional open bunion correction surgeries, like those Joanne and Loretta had for their first bunions, are performed through a 2- to 6-inch incision on the top of the foot. But there are options available today, called minimally invasive, that require very small incisions to correct a bunion. In fact, tiny “pinholes” are used to perform the Arthrex Minimally Invasive Bunionectomy. Both Loretta and Joanne chose to get the Arthrex Bunionectomy for their painful bunions.
To complete the Arthrex Bunionectomy, surgeons use those pinhole incisions to access the toe and realign the bones to correct the deformity causing the bunion. All bunions are different, so surgeons can customize 3D correction for your bunion using the Arthrex Bunionectomy’s specialized procedure and instruments.
Both Loretta and Joanne had a positive experience with the Arthrex Minimally Invasive Bunionectomy—totally different from the first time they underwent bunion correction.
“There really is no comparison. [The Arthrex Bunionectomy] was so much faster in terms of recovery, so much easier in terms of just pain and getting back out there,” Joanne says.
5. Not Just Any Doctor Can Perform the Arthrex Bunionectomy
There are many bunion correction procedures available—but the Arthrex Minimally Invasive Bunionectomy is performed only by highly trained surgeons who have completed a specialized course in the procedure. Surgeons receive hands-on training in the advanced Arthrex Bunionectomy instrumentation so they are prepared to perform this outpatient procedure in their practices.
Joanne and Loretta are real patients who were compensated for the time they took to share their personal experience with the Arthrex Minimally Invasive Bunionectomy.
1. Şaylı U, Altunok EÇ, Güven M, Akman B, Biros J, Şaylı A. Prevalence estimation and familial tendency of common forefoot deformities in Turkey: a survey of 2662 adults. Acta Orthop Traumatol Turc. 2018;52(3):167-173. doi:10.1016/j.aott.2018.01.003
2. Bunions. American Podiatric Medical Association. Accessed July 30, 2021. https://www.apma.org/bunions
3. What to do about bunions. Harvard Health Publishing. July 2, 2020. Accessed August 4, 2021. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/what-to-do-about-bunions