Definition of Bunions
Bunions, referred to in the medical community as Hallux Valgus, are one of the most common forefoot problems. A bunion is a prominent bump on the inside of the foot around the big toe joint. This bump is actually a bone protruding towards the inside of the foot. With the continued movement of the big toe towards the smaller toes, it is common to find the big toe resting under or over the second toe. This causes a common forefoot condition called overlapping toes. Some of the symptoms of bunions include inflammation, swelling, and soreness on the side surface of the big toe. The discomfort commonly causes a patient to walk improperly.
Another type of bunion which some individuals experience is called a Tailor’s Bunion, also known as a Bunionette. This forms on the outside of the foot towards the joint at the little toe. It is a smaller bump that forms due to the little toe moving inwards, towards the big toe.
Cause Of Bunions
Bunions are a common problem experienced mostly by women. The deformity can develop from an abnormality in foot function, or arthritis, but is more commonly caused by wearing improper fitting footwear. Tight, narrow dress shoes with a constrictive toe box (toe area) can cause the foot to begin to take the shape of the shoe, leading to the formation of a bunion. Women who have bunions normally wear dress shoes that are too small for their feet. Their toes are squeezed together in their shoes causing the first metatarsal bone to protrude on the side of the foot.
It is important for men and women to realize that wearing dress shoes and boots, which are tapered in the toe area, can cause the bunion to worsen to the point where surgery is necessary.
- Some bunions do not cause symptoms or noticeable problems but in the later stages they usually become painful due to pressure or rubbing.
- Pain and/ or soreness at the base of the big toe normally within the joint.
- Inflammation, redness, burning sensation at the base of big toe.
- Sometimes numbness in the area.
- Callus is very likely to form under the 1st and 2nd toes.
What home treatments can you try before attending a podiatry consultation?
- Avoid tight shoes and high heels
- Softer leather shoes may be more comfortable
- Prolonged standing (especially in poor footwear) should be avoided
- Cold compress can be helpful in relieving pain.
- Elevate the feet when resting
- Padding the area with soft fleecy dressings available from pharmacies
- Non steroidal anti inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen to reduce pain and inflammation.
What treatment can our podiatrists provide for Bunions?
- Treatment should be sought through a podiatrist for long term prevention and relief of pain and stiffness
- Firstly our podiatrists will perform a physical examination and give you an accurate diagnosis. It is essential to form an accurate diagnosis so the correct treatment can be recommended
- Padding and dressings
- Exercises may be given to strengthen the foot
- Further pain relief advice: our podiatrist can also offer acupuncture and cortisone injections (steroid)
- Activity modification advice
- Footwear advice
- Recommendation to attend for a biomechanical assessment
- Orthotic devices to correct the foot function and to rest the painful area
- X rays and/ or surgery may be needed in extreme cases by an orthopaedic surgeon. (Our podiatrists can refer patients if needed)