A bunion is a common condition that involves an abnormal, bony bump at the base of the big toe, causing the joint to swell outward and become painful. The big toe may also turn inward toward the second toe as a result of the enlarged joint, which can then lead to difficulty walking, ingrown toenails and corns and calluses.
Bunions often develop as a result of shoes that do not fit properly, abnormal walking habits or an inherited foot type. Bunions can also be caused by injury, birth defects arthritis or certain neuromuscular disorders.
Although bunions are not usually a serious condition, they can be painful and embarrassing. Treatment depends on the severity of the condition, although early treatment is considered most effective. Mild bunions may be relieved with a combination of medication, orthotics and physical therapy, while more severe cases may require surgery.
Surgery to treat bunions is often used for more severe cases, or after conservative methods have failed. There are several different surgical options available, depending on the cause and symptoms of the bunion.
The most common surgical procedure for bunions is a bunionectomy, which includes:
Most bunion procedures are performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia. General anesthesia may be used in certain situations depending on the complexity of the procedure and the preference of the patient. Complications from these procedures are rare but may include infection, recurring bunion or nerve damage.
While these procedures can be beneficial, they are usually only recommended for patients with bunions that cause severe pain. There is also a chance that a bunion may form again after surgery. Patients with realistic expectations are usually satisfied with the results of their surgery.
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A hammertoe is a term used to describe a crooked, deviated, or contracted toe. Although the condition usually stems from muscle imbalance, it is often aggravated by poor-fitting shoes or socks that cramp the toes. Over a period of years, the tendons that move the toe up and down begin to pull the toe with unequal tension, and the toe then begins to buckle or become contracted, causing an abnormal "v"-shaped bending of the little toes. Patients with this condition often experience pain, swelling, redness and stiffness in the affected toes.
While most cases of hammertoes are caused by an underlying muscle imbalance, it may develop as a result of several different causes, including arthritis, a hereditary condition, an injury, or ill-fitting shoes. In some cases, patients develop hammertoes after wearing shoes or stockings that are too tight for long periods of time. These patients usually develop hammertoes in both feet.
Treatment for hammertoes depends on the severity of the condition, but may home remedies, anti-inflammatory medications, orthotics or surgery for severe cases. Surgery involves removing a small section of bone from the affected joint through a procedure called arthroplasty. Arthrodesis may also be performed to treat hammertoes, which involves fusing together one of the joints in the toe in order to keep it straight. This procedure requires the use of a metal pin to hold the toe in position while it heals.
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One in four adults in the U.S. has flat feet or fallen arches. Some people are born with flat feet, while others acquire it as they get older. The foot may be flat all the time or it may lose its arch when the person stands ("flexible flatfoot"). Although less common, high-arched feet develop in the same way, but are more likely to lead to more serious problems.
Many people with flat feet don't experience any symptoms. Others, however, suffer from heel or ankle pain, tired feet, bunions, arthritis in the foot or ankle, foot or ankle deformity, knee or back pain, or other problems that need professional treatment. Those with high-arched feet likely experience pain, weakness and fatigue in their feet.
Treatment for these structural abnormalities depends on the type and severity of the condition, but may include changing shoes, wearing orthotics, anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy. Surgery for severe cases may involve removing or reshaping a bone or bone spur, or fusing one or more bones in the foot together.
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