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Bunion (hallus valgus): Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About bunion (hallus valgus)

Hallus valgus is a structural deformity of the big toe (hallus) wherein it deviates inwards towards other toes, resulting in an enlargement of the bone between the big toe and the foot. This bony prominence is termed as ‘bunion’.

Bunion (hallus valgus): Incidence, age and sex

Hallus valgus is commonly seen in the general population, especially middle-aged adults and the elderly. A significant gender predilection is seen with women being more predisposed to it than men.

Signs and symptoms of bunion (hallus valgus): Diagnosis

The individual with hallus valgus shows a significant tilt of the big toe towards other toes accompanied by redness and swelling around it. This may result in a bony prominence on the edge of the big toe. This physical deformity of the foot is typical, making it easier to diagnose the condition. The presentation of pain is variable and differs from person to person. Some affected individuals may have a painless deformity while others may complain of intense pain around the big toe which may worsen on wearing footwear. This physical deformity may affect one or both feet and may deteriorate with time. However, no limitation of movement is observed in such instances. It is advisable to consult a foot specialist also called podiatrist for appropriate treatment.

Causes and prevention of bunion (hallus valgus)

The occurrence of bunions is mainly due to hereditary factors wherein the structural positioning of ligaments and tendons in foot may predispose individuals to development of bunion. However other factors like ill-fitting footwear, flat foot or wearing high heels may also result in development of bunion. Individuals who wear closed and constricting shoes for extended periods of time are more prone for this deformity.

Bunion (hallus valgus): Complications

Early diagnosis of a bunion due to its typical physical distortion in foot and appropriate management henceforth, generally results in no complications. Occasionally arthritis of the affected big toe may develop in cases of longstanding, untreated bunion.

Bunion (hallus valgus): Treatment

The goal of treatment is to provide symptomatic relief and prevent further deterioration of the condition. Medications like NSAIDs may be prescribed to reduce pain and swelling. Supportive measures like cold compress and elevation of the foot may also help in alleviating the symptoms. It is advisable to wear open footwear and slightly oversized footwear. Orthotic footwear with padding also benefit some affected individuals. Moreover, supportive foot gears like bunion splint or bunion tapes have also been of advantage in several individuals. Surgical intervention has not much role to play in treatment of bunions. However, rare instances may require surgical management which may depend upon the severity of the hallus valgus and its resulting deformity.

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