07 Nov Bunion Treatment & Causes Hobart Podiatrist’s Guide
Bunions are a very common foot complaint that presents to our clinic on a day to day basis. They have been shown to reduce health-related quality of life, make fitting footwear difficult and be quite painful problems. I wanted to provide our patients with the most up to date information on the causes and bunion treatment options available to you so that you can make the most informed decisions for your foot and health.
What exactly is that growing on the side of my foot?
Most people see a bunion as a large protuberance coming from the side of the big toe. By looking at the x-ray below we see it is actually a deviation of the bones due to the joint being unstable causing the alignment to change. A bunion can range of mild, moderate to severe alignment changes and often progresses slowly over many years.
What has caused it?
There are many reported reasons why bunions occur.
- Genetics. There is now no question that you have inherited your bunions from one of your parents or grandparents.
- Tight, narrow footwear or high heels, poorly fitted or narrow footwear may make things worse as well as increase your pain levels.
- The way your foot functions and your walking/running gait may also be involved in the causation of your bunion.
- A past history of trauma to the big toe such as injuries like turf toe or a bad knock to the big toe has also been shown to be a factor.
Should I do something about it?
- This is a very individual thing and it depends on many factors which is best discussed after a qualified assessment. A podiatrist is likely the best placed professional to discuss your treatment options with.
- The severity of your bunion deformity and how much pain or affect it is having on your quality of life are usually the biggest reasons why people seek treatment.
- Some people can go there whole life without having any problems but if you do, you should listen to your bunion and take some sort of action.
- Most people with mild to moderate bunion deformities don’t tend to have very much problems.
Is surgery a viable bunion treatment?
The only way to correct or fix a bunion currently is surgery to put the bones back into improved alignment BUT not everyone should consider this. Whilst surgical outcomes are generally very good there can be some complications. Surgery is a case by case scenario.
The number one reason for bunion Pain is… FOOTWEAR! As your bunion forms, a side effect of this is that the front of your foot widens. This means fitting into shoes is harder around the forefoot and shoe width can be a major problem and aggravating factor.
Finding shoes that do not put pressure on the side of your bunion could eliminate a large amount of your ongoing pain around the bunion. This becomes harder as a bunion deformity progresses and becomes more severe.
Other Problems associated with bunions
- Big toe pain especially with tight footwear.
- Forefoot deformities such as clawing and disfigured lesser toes.
- Pain with walking, running and sports
- Midfoot & Forefoot Pain
- Painful Calluses and Corns
- Big toe Osteoarthritis
- Other foot, ankle and leg problems associated with a change in biomechanics
Bunions in Children & Kids
Bunions can, in fact, occur in children of all ages. If assessed and treated in the early phrases there is some chance of natural re-alignment with strapping, orthotics, footwear, exercises and splinting but it is difficult to achieve. There is currently not a great consensus within the medical field whether earlier surgical treatment for kids to stop future pain and deformity is indicated. It is important to seek a number of opinions and get a full assessment as well as to exhaust conservative treatments.
Bunion treatments should be tailored to patient’s individual factors, they can involve;
- Exercise Therapy
- Padding, Splinting & Bracing
- Orthotics (Custom or Off-Shelve)
- Mobilisation Treatments
- Footwear Modification / Prescription
Podiatrists & Bunion Treatment
Podiatrists are the best placed medical professional to first evaluate your bunion.
The following will generally take place at your consultation;
- A discussion of your current complaint, history and symptoms
- A full assessment of your foot and bunion.
- Footwear, Biomechanical and Gait Assessment
- Bulk Billed X-RAY to fully assess your foot and big toe.
- Discussion of best treatment options available depending on your specific case.
- Evidenced-based treatment plan
Don’t underestimate the value of professional advice that is tailored to you.