Bunions

The big toe of the foot is called the Hallux. When the Hallux begins to deviate inward in the direction of the baby toe, this condition is called “Hallux Valgus”. As the toe moves more in this direction, a bony prominence starts to develop on the outside of the big toe, over the metatarsal bone. This is called a Bunion.

Tight-fitting footwear like high-heels and narrow-toed shoes can often increase the risk of bunion formation. Excessive pronating or rolling inwards of the ankles may also be factors causing bunions.

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You will see a certified pedorthist who specializes in foot mechanics,
conditions, and conservative treatments.

Symptoms and Causes

Symptoms can start with pain at the joint at the base of the big toe when wearing certain shoes. This can be accompanied by redness, tenderness or swelling and eventually the big toe begins to change shape, curving inwards and restricting joint motion.

  • Foot Mechanics: A foot that over pronates, or rolls inward has a greater chance of developing Hallux Valgus as the foot creates an imbalance between the muscles and tendons around the big toe joint.
  • Muscle Factors: Rigid or tight intrinsic toe muscles and tendons can lead to a compromised gait, putting more pressure on the outside area of the big toe as you push off.
  • Footwear: Shoes that are too narrow can put excessive pressure on the big toe area, and the forward tilting effect of high heels can as well.
  • Individual: Although bunions are not necessarily hereditary, genetics can make you more susceptible to developing bunions. It is not inevitable however, as it is the foot type, not the bunion that is inherited and measures are available to prevent bunion formation.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the degree of deformity. The only way to actually remove a bunion is through surgery. However, there are other non-invasive methods to correcting, managing, and preventing bunions:

  • For relief of pain, bunion cushions and shields are sometimes effective.
  • Wearing shoes with a wide and deep toe box allows room for the bunion, easing pressure on it.
  • Custom-made orthotics can redistribute pressure, relieving the bunion as well as stopping it from progressing. At Kintec, we have a variety of custom orthotics created for your specific biomechanical and activity needs.
  • Hallux Valgus night splints are also an over the counter option, as they stretch tight tendons and intrinsic toe muscles overnight, sometimes resulting in the correction of Hallux Valgus.
  • Toe separators can by worn during the day and at night to stretch the intrinsic muscles of the big toe to relieve pressure on the bunion.
  • Stretching exercises to reduce tension and swelling on the joint of a bunion.
  • Corticosteroid injection or consumption of anti-inflammatory drugs can used to help relieve swelling and pain.
  • Bunion Surgery for those whose bunions cause consistent pain or discomfort.

Prevention

To help prevent bunion formation, avoid poor-fitting shoes with narrow toe boxes; ensure your shoes are not too tight and allow for wiggle room in the toes. Wearing custom orthotics will also improve alignment and provide pressure distribution – wearing a forefoot rocker will also reduce pressure on the forefoot.

What’s the next step?

If the bunion:

  • Continues to cause pain even after home care treatments
  • Prevents you from doing routine activities
  • Shows signs of infection like redness or swelling

Doctors will typically base their diagnosis on symptoms and findings from special tests. X-rays are often taken to determine the integrity of the joints in the foot and to test for arthritis.

For further reading about this condition, see more from Kintec:

Book an Appointment

You will see a certified pedorthist who specializes in foot mechanics, conditions, and conservative treatments
or visit us in-store

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