Bunions are one of the most common foot problems affecting both men and women.
If you’re worried about developing a bunion, or have recently started seeing changes in the shape of your bones, we can help.
Bunions are characterised by a bony bump seen on the inside of the foot, by the big toe joint. They develop gradually over time and many people will not experience any pain or discomfort unless the bunion is irritated by tight shoes that rub against it. Others may notice marked swelling and redness as a direct response to pressure and high loads on the joint.
As the bunion progresses, the associated bones and joints change shape, with the big toe angling to face the smaller toes. While this shape may start out being flexible (meaning that you can pull your toe straight with your fingers), over time this becomes a fixed and rigid deformity, often developing arthritis at the later stages. This can impair balance, cause long term pain and make footwear shopping a difficult task.
At My FootDr, we aim to help prevent the early development of bunions by addressing the factors that overload your big toe joint and kickstart the bunion developing.
What causes bunions?
Medically known as Hallux Abducto Valgus (HAV), bunions are the result of excess loading or pressure on the big toe joint at the ball of the foot. Common reasons for this pressure include:
- A flat (pronated) foot type that rolls down and places more pressure on the big toe joint during every step
- Ill-fitting footwear, such as high heels and tight narrow shoes, put added pressure on the big toe, as well as painful rubbing against the bunion
Foot biomechanics (alignment and function) that create instability in the big toe joint may also play a part in the development of bunions, and this alignment is often why bunions “run in the family“. It’s not the bunion that is actually inherited, but the foot characteristics that make you more likely to develop a bunion.
How we help bunions
Where possible, early detection and management are ideal for achieving the best long-term results. If your bunion is pronounced but still flexible, it may be possible to reduce its severity. As the features of a bunion can be so different, we assess each bunion on a case-by-case basis and let you know what you can expect and if non-surgical treatment is viable.
The first step is identifying what has led to your bunion developing, or if it hasn’t started yet, what your risk factors are. This will include assessing the way you walk, the function of the bones, joints, ligaments and muscles in your feet and legs, checking any restrictions and the movement available in the joints of your feet and around your big toe, and other tests.
Your My FootDr Podiatrist will then create a treatment plan based on what will help achieve the best outcomes for your feet and bunions. If flat feet or other alignment problems are causing your bunion, we have good success using custom orthotics to relieve pressure away from the big toe joint.
We’ll recommend footwear to reduce pain and pressure on the big toe joint and help prevent further bunion development. Wide, accommodating footwear with a low heel is important to compliment orthotics and reduce pain.
Surgical correction of bunions is an option, but should only be considered after other podiatry care options have been explored due to its invasive nature.
Tailor’s bunion (bunionette)
You can also develop bunions on the outside of your foot, by your little fifth toe at the ball of the foot. This is called a tailor’s bunion or a bunionette. This name originates from its history of prevalence among tailors, caused by the way they would sit on the floor. While the smaller size of the joint means that it is less pronounced compared to a standard bunion, it can still cause pain, rubbing and make fitting shoes difficult. See your My FootDr podiatrist if you’re worried that you are developing a tailor’s bunion.
My FootDr’s top tips for bunions care
- Seek early diagnosis and management from your podiatrist
- Choose the right footwear for your feet
- Wear custom foot orthotics if prescribed by your podiatrist
- Commit to an annual check-up to keep the bunion under control