Can A Podiatrist Help With Bunions?
If you’ve ever had a bunion, you know just how frustrating it can be to deal with. Not only can it cause pain and discomfort, but it can prevent you from wearing the shoes you want to or from getting a pedicure out of concern that people will see it.
Bunions are nothing to be ashamed of and podiatrists see people with bunions regularly. If a bunion is causing you pain or impacting the way you live your life in any way, it may be worth seeing a podiatrist for help.
This article explains what a bunion is, what can cause bunions, their signs and symptoms, and how a podiatrist may be able to treat them. For personalised advice, contact our team at Muscle Joint Bone today.
What Is A Bunion?
A bunion is also known as Hallux Valgus or Hallux Abducto Valgus (HAV). This refers to a visual bump on the side of the foot just below the toe. Bunions are usually found on the big toe, however, they can also be found on the opposite side at the little toe, where it’s called a bunionette or a ‘Tailor’s Bunion’.
Bunions are a progressive deformity but aren’t always symptomatic. They often begin with a deviation of the hallux (the big toe); over the years, this becomes more prominent as the angles of the bones change.
What Causes A Bunion To Develop?
Bunions can develop when there is increased pressure or force on the big toe joint. This can happen due to a variety of reasons, such as:
- Flat feet (arch collapse)
- Joint hypermobility
- Short first metatarsal (the bone in the foot behind the big toe)
- Weak intrinsic foot muscles
- Footwear that is too narrow
- Footwear such as high heels that causes the toes to be pressed together
- Dancing that places increased pressure on the forefoot, such as ballet
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Trauma to the big toe joint
- Hereditary factors
- Post-surgical malfunction
- Improper nerve function
- Biomechanical imbalances such as improper foot function or muscular imbalances
Bunion Signs And Symptoms
While bunions are not always symptomatic, meaning you may not be able to see it, if you have a bunion it may worsen over time and become more pronounced.
Bunions are most common in women and can be classified into 3 stages: 1 (mild), 2 (moderate), and 3 (severe).
Typically, bunions begin with a slight lean of the big toe towards the second toe. Other signs and symptoms include:
- A bony bump on the inside or top of the big toe which may become red and swollen
- Joint stiffness
- Loss of motion within the joint
- Aching pain in the joint
- Pain that worsens with footwear
- Difficulty fitting in shoes
- Misshapen second toe
How Can A Podiatrist Treat A Bunion?
The course of treatment that may be best for you will depend on the severity of your bunion. For mild cases, a simple and conservative management plan using exercises may be sufficient, while very severe cases may require surgery. Your podiatrist should evaluate the severity of your bunion and how it affects you before working with you to decide on possible treatment.
Early, conservative treatment may help to reduce the pressure over the bunion and to slow or halt the progression of the joint deformity. A podiatrist may suggest:
- Changing footwear to avoid shoes with narrow toe boxes and high heels
- Strengthening exercises to improve foot strength
- Toe stretches and gentle mobilisations to improve flexibility
- Bunion splint to wear overnight in an effort to stretch and realign the toe joint
- Toe separators to wear during the day to keep your big toe from your second toe
- Custom foot orthoses aimed at improving biomechanical imbalances, reducing pain and discomfort, and slowing the progression of the deformity
Conservative treatments such as these are recommended before considering further options such as surgery. In cases where conservative treatments don’t improve the issue, surgery may need to be considered. There are several surgical procedures that can be performed for bunions, all of which aim to remove the bump and correct structural changes in the foot. Following bunion surgery, it is recommended that you wear sensible footwear and foot orthoses for best results.
Looking For Podiatry Treatment For Your Bunion?
Feet concerns can play a large role in your life and stop you from doing what you like. At Muscle Joint Bone, we want to help you get the most out of life. With locations in Doreen and Epping, our team will ensure you receive a thorough assessment and that your podiatrist will work with you to come up with appropriate treatment for your bunion. To get back to your happy feet, contact our caring and professional team today.