Do you have a bony bump with your big toe that looks like it is going in the opposite direction? Does it feel tender to the touch or warm, hurt, turn red or become shiny? This bony bump – may be a bunion, also known as Hallux Valgus.
Recent statistics report that 1 in 51 or 5.2 million people in the US have a bunion – a bone deformity on the foot that results when the bone or tissue at the joint at the bottom of the big toe moves out of place.
What can cause a Bunion?
According to reports, bunion symptoms occur ten times more frequently in women than men. This bony and often painful bump may develop due to various factors:
- Biomechanical abnormalities
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Flat feet
- High foot arches
- Tight footwear
- High heels
- Narrow-toed shoes
- Poorly fitting or unsupportive shoes
- Abnormal positioning of toes
- Age – the foot may spread as we get older
- Genetics – weak or poor foot structure
- Congenital – abnormal formation of the bones of the foot at birth
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Repetitive stresses – ballet dancers, athletes, runners, walkers, hikers
- Foot injuries
- Poor posture
Why does bunion pain develop?
While some people with bunions do not experience any symptoms, many people do suffer with pain. This pain may develop due to:
- Friction caused by the rubbing of footwear against the bunion.
- The big toe moves toward the other toes, which cause it to go either over or under the second toe.
- When the first metatarsal (long bone of the foot) moves toward the other foot -due to a loss of cartilage that resulted from not being parallel to the other foot, pain can develop.
Whether genetic, congenital or from years of abnormal motion and pressure – bunion pain necessitates care, especially because the big toe carries a great deal of weight while walking and standing. To prevent severe and/or constant pain, stiffness and difficulty wearing shoes, treatment for bunions is important.
Why go to a Foot Doctor for help?
Bunions do not heal by themselves because they are a bone deformity. Therefore, a foot doctor – specifically a podiatrist offers treatment to help relieve pain and pressure caused by the irritation, as well as stopping the progression of the bunion. A podiatrist can diagnose and treat conditions which involve the foot, ankle and related portions of the leg.
Treatment and/or recommendations include:
- Cortisone Injections.
- Surgical correction to shave off bone overgrowth and/or reposition the bone.
- Custom molded orthotic devices help stabilize the joint and place the foot in the proper position when standing and walking.
- Bandaging or protective padding are utilized to help friction when wearing shoes.
- Removing corns and calluses on the foot.
- At nighttime, splints may help the toes and joint to properly align.
- Physical therapists can customize an exercise program to help maintain joint mobility and prevent stiffness or arthritis. In addition, gait training and education help to improve the angle of the big toe, increase strength and reduce pain.
- Wear correct and properly fitting footwear to allow room for the bunion.
- Maintain a normal weight. Work with a Certified Nutrition Specialist and/or Medical Doctor to customize a healthy eating program.
- Medication – such as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory may be prescribed.
A podiatrist or physical therapist offers several therapies – such as ultrasound, cryotherapy, moist heat, electric stimulation, manual stretching, kinesio taping and massage as treatment for bunions. In some instances, minimum invasive bunion surgery is necessitated to help correct the bunion. Physical therapy following surgery aids in healing.
If you are suffering with bunion pain, help is available. Relieve pain and stiffness and resume your normal activity with the help and guidance of a Healthcare Team consisting of a Podiatrist, Physical Therapist and Certified Nutrition Specialist. Early intervention is vital!