How Bunions Can Lead to Additional Foot Problems

Bunions, Town Center Foot & Ankle, bunionectomy

Bunions often start out innocently enough — a small bump begins to form at the base of your big toe, creating a minor cosmetic inconvenience. Before you know it, that minor bump pushes your big toe over or under your second toe and throws your foot into a world of cascading health problems. The good news is that we can prevent this from happening.

At Town Center Foot & Ankle, we help our patients in north Houston, more specifically, Kingwood and Atascocita, Texas, navigate their lives more easily with healthy, problem-free feet. And one of the best ways to accomplish this is through early intervention, especially when it comes to bunions. Left untreated, bunions can disrupt the health of your entire foot, and your entire life, as your once-confident step becomes an increasingly painful affair.

Here’s a look at how bunions can lead to additional foot problems and, more importantly, what we can do about it.

The bunion conundrum

A bunion, medically known as hallux valgus, is a progressive condition that starts as a bump on the inside of the joint at the base of your toe. Over time, this bump begins to grow, pushing your big toe toward your other toes, and even forcing your big toe over or under your second toe.

There are many factors that contribute to the formation of a bunion, chief among them are genetics and ill-fitting shoes — yes, those pointy heels!

While the appearance of a bunion may be of some cosmetic concern, it can also become irritated, sore, and inflamed, making wearing any type of shoe almost too painful to consider.

Worse, still, that bunion can be the start of a number of related conditions. Let’s take a look.

The second-in-command

As your bunion progresses, it starts to push against your second toe and may begin to migrate either over or under it. Needless to say, this can greatly affect the function and well-being of your second toe.

To start, corns and calluses may develop on top of your second toe if your big toe begins to push it up. Taking it a step further, your second toe may fall prey to hammertoe, effectively doubling the trouble your bunion originally caused.

Down below

In addition to affecting your second toe, a developing bunion can throw your entire foot off balance. Think about the size of your feet relative to your body and you start to realize that these very small areas carry a considerable amount of responsibility in providing you with support, mobility, and balance. To do this, everything needs to be functioning properly, and even the tiniest components need to be pulling their weight.

When a bunion develops, it transfers the load-bearing into areas that weren’t designed for the extra work. Your big toe should carry the lion’s share of your weight — about 40% — and it plays a crucial role in how you push off your feet for movement. As your big toe becomes displaced by the bunion, other areas need to pick up the slack, and they can object in several ways.

To start, you may develop painful bursitis under the base of your second metatarsal. Your bursa sacs are there to provide cushioning and support, but when they’re under too much stress, they can become inflamed. When this happens at the base of your second toe on the underside of your feet, the consequences can be painful and disabling.

Another common complication of bunions is metatarsalgia, which, in simple terms, is pain and inflammation in the ball of your foot.

A way out

Thankfully, there are ways we can halt the progression of your bunion if we can jump in quickly. When your bunion first beings to develop, we can slow or halt its progression through a change in your footwear, orthotics, and some padding or taping. To help with any discomfort, we can recommend anti-inflammatory medications and try cortisone shots to relieve the inflammation.

If your bunion continues to progress, we can perform a bunionectomy. We use the latest minimally invasive techniques for this outpatient surgery with the goal of getting you back on your feet as quickly as possible.


If you’d like to learn more about bunions and how to prevent a potential cascade of complications, please give us a call or use the online scheduling tool to set up an appointment.

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