Bunions can lead to several complications and increase your risk for developing more serious health issues, even beyond the foot itself.
Corns, Calluses & Blisters
The bunion can also cause the toe to rub against the toe next to it, leading to blisters or calluses where the two toes come in contact with each other (especially if the toes are overlapping). Sores may also form on the point of the bunion protrusion as it is more likely to rub against shoes and become irritated. Similar to calluses, corns are dead skin cells that become hardened like stones over time, leading to pain. Though corns and blisters are relatively minor and easily treatable issues, they will continue to persist without bunion correction treatment.
Bursitis is a painful condition that occurs when the small pads around the foot bones, called bursae, become inflamed. These fluid-filled sacs help protect bones and joints, and when they become swollen, it can also damage the cartilage around the joint. This can then potentially lead to arthritis because it indicates that the joints are under constant pressure.
As bunions become swollen, it can affect the soles of your feet and lead to a condition known as Metatarsalgia. Metatarsalgia is a condition that causes pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot, and it is more common in individuals who frequently run and/or jump. This condition is sometimes caused by a change in the way a person moves and/or supports their weight with different parts of the foot, typically because of the bunion pain itself.
Hammertoes & Mallet Toes
Hammertoe, also referred to as mallet toe, is when any toe becomes bent abnormally at the middle joint, causing the muscles and tendons to become pushed out of position. This can occur when any of the smaller digits bend downward, clawing the ground when a person walks. This occurs due to instability in the foot related to foot misalignment. Hammertoes can form in the toe next to the big toe bunion, but it can also form in any of the smaller toes as bunions might change the way a person walks in response to the pain they are experiencing.
People with more severe bunion cases are at a higher risk to develop osteoarthritis, which is degenerative disease results from the breakdown of joint cartilage and underlying bone. When bunions are present, the arthritis is onset by the wear and tear of the affected joints due to poor movement through the joint. Typical osteoarthritis symptoms include joint stiffness, pain, decreased range of motion and swelling.
- A video on osteoarthritis treatment. (maybe not all that useful)
When toe misalignment is present, the limited big toe mobility can cause issues that not only affect the foot and ankle, but also the knee, hips and back. Additionally, persistent chronic pain is something that can develop as bunions remain present or untreated for longer periods of time.