Bunions are characterized as an enlargement of the big toe joint (metatarsophalangeal joint) in which the big toe encroaches on the space of the second toe, making footwear difficult to fit and reduces efficiency in your walking biomechanics (gait).
The joint may be red and inflamed, or asymptomatic (no symptoms) with only visual evidence of physical deformation. Bunions can also lead to many secondary complications such as hammer toes, metatarsalgia, callus, knee osteoarthritis from adapted biomechanics, and even hip and back problems.
Bunions can be genetic in nature, biomechanical in nature, or both. Years of improper footwear use can also contribute to the development of a bunion.
There are many different treatment approaches depending on the individual. Having your footwear custom fit can provide tremendous relief, and even prevent the bunion from further development. Different footwear features can benefit different types of bunions, so it is important to know what kind you have and what footwear features will be most beneficial. Joint mobility through manual therapy can be achieved in some case, bunion night splints or bunion braces can be highly effective, and custom foot orthotics to improve and restore normal foot function can be used.