Bunions. What are they and what can you do about them?
The Bunion deformity is thought of as a “lump” off the side of the foot but is actually a change in joint alignment of the foot. This condition can be both painful and debilitating. Bunions are a progressive structural deformity that occurs at the joint of the big toe. The deformity results from instability in the big toe. The deformity sees the metatarsal (the long bone going into the toe) move into the midline of the foot. The actual toe (referred to as the hallux) moves in the opposite direction, causing the deformity to grow incorrectly over time.
What are the causes of Bunions?
Genetics: Primarily because foot type (shape and structure) and characteristics are hereditary
Foot Type and Characteristics: Structural and mechanical characteristics of the foot affect function. Subsequently certain foot characteristics will impact how efficient the big toes’ load is dispersed and how much propulsion is enabled through the gait cycle. Some characteristics of foot structure that increase the chances of a person developing a bunion include: flat feet, hyper mobile joints and or loss of medial stability.
Medical condition: Conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis can also cause the bunion deformity to occur.
Footwear: This is commonly thought to be the primary cause of the deformity, however, unsupportive footwear and/or styles with a restrictive toe box will not cause a bunion. Footwear is important for decreasing the progression of a bunion and can help with comfort and support.
How do you know you have a Bunion?
Changes around the joint of the big toe, bone thickening is often visible with visual observation and X-ray is likely to identify a change in joint angle and possible wear of cartilage resulting in uneven joint spacing.
Restricted movement available at the joint (with or without pain)
Often redness and inflammation is noted over the top and side aspect of the joint
Pain and soreness which can range from a dull ache to sharp pain
A burning sensation and possible numbness can also result at the joint and extend to the toe.
In some situations toe position of the 2nd toe may also change due to the pressure and force created from the 2nd toe changing alignment e.g. hammer toe deformity.
How do you manage your bunions?
A visit to the Podiatrists at Essential Chiropractic and Healthcare Clinic, Reservoir is the first step! We can help you to best manage your condition and can provide a range of advice and treatment modalities from conservative management, through to surgical recommendations. Due to progressive nature of the deformity, it is not possible to reduce the deformity however managing the condition and associated symptoms can help to reduce the continued rate of change.
Common management strategies include:
- Footwear education and advise through to footwear modification
- Palliative padding to reduce pressure over the boney prominence
- Splints to assist in realigning the joint.
- Strapping strategies to reduce strain and load placed on the join
- Muscle strengthening to assist in stabilizing the foot and subsequently the big toe joint.
- Address muscle tightness which contributes to muscle imbalance which can be achieved via a range manual therapies.
- Orthoses to assist in addressing any biomechanical deficiencies or abnormalities.
Our Podiatrists Bronwyn and Kamile have 18 year of combined experience with bunions and podiatry related concerns. Please call our friendly reception staff on 9470 3443 to make an appointment today.