A bunion is an abnormal growth which develops when the big toe pushes inwards toward the second toe, throwing the foot’s structure out of alignment. It’s essentially a bony bump at the big toe joint and protrudes outward. It can cause discomfort and pain depending on the severity.
Bunions are not uncommon and affect 23% of the population, which increases in people over 65 years. Depending on the formation and severity of the bunion, they can be quite painful, limit movement and discourage you from your normal activities such as walking and running.
However, you don’t need to live with the pain of bunions. Bunions are a progressive disorder which means they mostly get worse with time but there are ways to prevent them from getting bigger and more painful. You have many more kilometres to walk through life so getting in touch with us to help you with your bunions sooner than later is wise.
What causes bunions?
If you have a bunion, you’ve most likely inherited foot mechanics that are prone to developing bunions from one of your parents. Bunions develop because the foot structure is misaligned making the foot prone to developing the bony protrusion. If your foot is prone to developing a bunion, there is good reason to pay attention to the following aggravating factors to prevent further development such as:
- wearing badly-fitting shoes that are too small, too tight, or pointy as this forces the big toe further inwards
- High heels will place considerable pressure on the ball of the foot and exacerbate bunions
- Biomechanics such as low arches and flat feet
- Arthritis in the foot can inflame the big toe joint and futter develop the bunion
Self-help – what you can do at home
If you’re reading this you probably have a bunion already, perhaps just a small one. Whether your bunion is small or large, there are several ways to help prevent them from getting bigger and more painful.
Change your footwear – you’ll know which shoes in your wardrobe aggravate the bunion, so you’ll need to make a decision about whether to continue wearing them. Or perhaps you can wear them for short periods. Shoes with a wider fit at the front, giving plenty of room for the bunion will minimise pain and discomfort and minimise further growth.
Gel pads and toe inserts – you can purchase gel pads from the chemist to place over the bunions to cushion any pain. Toe inserts will also act like stints and keep the toes straight, which may help to prevent further growth.
Modify activities – if certain activities cause pain you may want to reconsider whether to continue them. Some people who’ve been runners have opted for exercises such as pilates and yoga which strengthens both muscles and your cardiovascular system without the stress and pressure on feet.
Applying ice packs – if you’re experiencing significant bunion pain, then applying icepacks will help reduce swelling, inflammation and the pain.
How we help at the podiatry clinic
Physical therapy – we’ll use strengthening and stretching exercises to improve the muscle function of the foot and alleviate tension in the forefoot and surrounding areas. We massage your feet to release tightness, reduce inflammation and we may also use Ultrasound therapy as part of the treatment if needed.
Biomechanical therapy and orthotics – this includes any sort of treatment or therapy to alter the alignment and function of the feet and body and enable improved mechanical function. This may include stretches and strengthening, gait retraining, paddings, strapping, bracing, orthotics or anything else that causes a change in the mechanics of the foot and leg.
Orthoses may be recommended. A biomechanical assessment is initially performed to determine the function of your feet and legs, the movement at the joints and flexibility/strength of the soft tissues. This will determine whether you actually need an orthosis and how it will improve the condition of your bunions.
Don’t put up with bunion discomfort and pain, let our podiatrists help you
Book an appointment with Sanders Podiatry to have your bunions assessed. We provide holistic personalised podiatry care and customise our approach to the care of your feet.
We’ll develop a treatment plan at home and with our podiatrists to help you take care of your feet so that your bunions don’t get to the point where they are preventing you from activities you enjoy.
Our podiatry clinics are located in Adelaide, across the road from Burnside Shopping Centre, in Stirling and at the Mount Barker Summit Health Centre.