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Causes and Treatments of Hallux Valgus

Many individuals often experience the discomfort of Hallux Valgus also known as a bunion. A bunion is an atypical, bony bump that may form at the base of the great toe on the joint. This joint often enlarges and therefore forces the big toe to crowd the remaining toes. The result is a great deal of pressure is endured by the joint which pushes it forward and out of the profile that is normal for the foot. The end result of this process is foot pain that may range from very mild to extremely severe.

Deep tissue and skin around the bunion sometimes will also become inflamed and swollen contributing to the amount of pain one may suffer. Hallux Valgus can occur for many different reasons such as the most common of these which is the use of footwear that is too tight. Other factors may be hereditary structural defects as well as conditions that place added stress to the feet including arthritis. Regardless of the cause of Hallus Valgus, the signs and symptoms are in general the same.

Many of these signs and symptoms include:

• Protruding bump at the base of the great toe.
• Formation of thick skin at the base of the great toe.
• Joint of the big toe becomes swollen, reddened, and/or sore.
• At the point at which the first and second toes are overlapped, calluses or corns may develop.
• Pain that may be continuous or come and go generally experienced more with activities involving the use of the foot. May be mild or severe in nature.
• Limited ability to move the great toe.
Ingrown toenails have started to form.
• Deformities of the smaller toes may develop. Hammertoe may form which is toes that deform and are bent or resemble a claw and cannot be straightened.

Hallux Valgus usually does not require any kind of medical attention, however when any signs and symptoms persist or worsen an individual should seek the advice of a physician or a podiatrist.

Treatment Options

By a simple examination of the foot, a physician can diagnose Hallux Valgus. This examination often includes manipulation of the great toe in an up and down motion to evaluate the range of motion. With Hallux Valgus the range of motion is very limited. Swelling and redness are looked for and the amount of pain will be scaled by the doctor. The physician will establish the cause of the condition and its severity by obtaining an X-ray. The determined severity and level of pain in each case of Hallux Valgus will dictate the type of treatment that will be needed.

Some of the treatments that do not require surgery are:

 • In order to give the toes more space, choose footwear that is not only comfortable but also roomy especially in the toe-box.
• Place the toes in the position that is normal for the foot and pad then tape them into place to relieve pain as well as lower the amount of stress to the Hallus Valgus.
• Steroid injections into the joint may reduce swelling.
• Use over-the-counter pain relieving medication as directed or as suggested by physician.
• To aid the foot with normal movement place shoe inserts that are padded. These also will cause a reduction in the symptoms and are a method in the prevention of worsening of the condition.

In many cases when nothing seems to be relieving any of the symptoms, it may be necessary that some type of surgery be performed. Some of these surgeries may be to perform one or more of the following procedures:

• Tissue that is inflamed and swollen may be removed from around the area of the joint of the big toe.
• Metatarsal bone realignment to lessen deformities.
• Permanent fusing the bones of the joint.

Following surgery, an individual may find it possible to walk on the foot almost immediately. Others may need to recover for six to eight weeks and in many cases even longer. Recovery is based on the individual and how well the body heals itself.
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