Some can be sensitive when it comes to showing off our feet for a variety of reasons. Our toenails may be odd or thickened (a sign of fungal issues), we may have calluses from irregular wear and from certain shoes, or our toes themselves may not look straight. When the big toe or little toe starts to angle toward the centre of the foot creating an enlargement where the toe attaches to the foot (the metatarsophalangeal joint), it is called a Bunion. The term “Bunion” itself refers to a bone deformity caused by the enlargement of the joint at the base and side of the big (or little) toe. The bunion will form when the toe is pushed inward. This enlargement can cause friction, pressure and discomfort when it rubs against footwear. As time goes on, as the big toe angles towards the second toe it may rotate or twist causing more irritation and inflammation. Bunions can also lead to other toe deformities such as hammertoe.
Bunions often cause people discomfort and pain from constant irritation and rubbing of the enlargement against shoes. The larger the bunion gets the more it may hurt to walk / run. Overtime the can cause bursitis or arthritis, and the skin may develop more calluses.
Preventing Bunions / Worsening of Calluses:
Bunions can run in families, usually because of a faulty foot structure. Wearing shoes that are too tight is also a leading cause of bunions. Other things that can contribute to the formation and progression of bunions are foot and ankle injuries, neuromuscular problems, flat feet, as well as certain types of arthritis.
Treatment for Bunions:
Bunions will not resolve by on their own. The goal for bunion treatment is twofold: first, to relieve the pressure and pain caused by irritations, and second to stop any growth of the enlargement. Commonly used methods to decrease pressure and pain caused by bunions include:
• Protective padding made to eliminate the friction against shoes and help stop inflammation and skin problems.
• Proper and safe removal of corns and calluses on the foot by a Chiropodist (foot specialist)
• Changing to carefully fitted footwear designed to accommodate the bunion and not contribute toward its growth.
• Shoe Orthotics devices to help stabilize the joint and keep the joints of the foot in the correct position for walking and standing.
• Appropriate exercises to strengthen, maintain joint mobility and prevent stiffness or arthritis.
• Splints for nighttime to help the toes and joint align properly. (This is often recommended for adolescents with bunions, because their bone development may still be adaptable).
A consultation and thorough assessment with a Chiropodist (foot specialist) will provide more clarity on your specific issue as well as what treatment options would be best. As bunions can be a progressive issue, early assessment and treatment is important, but is never too late to get treatment.
Brittney Wirtz is a Chiropodist specializing in feet and foot care providing Foot Care
services to the Oakville, Burlington, Milton and Mississauga area. She is located at Palermo Physiotherapy and Wellness Centre at Dundas St and Old Bronte Rd.