A bunion is a bony enlargement that develops on the inside of the foot at the big toe joint. Bunions are also referred to as hallux valgus. A bunion is not always painful.

Bunions often develop slowly but may increase more rapidly when aggravated by pressure. The pressure on the big toe joint causes the big toe to lean toward the second toe. Over time, the normal structure of the bone changes, resulting in the bunion bump. This deformity will gradually increase and may make it painful to wear shoes or walk.

Anyone can develop a bunion, but they are more commonly noted in women.

  • Condition

    When the big toe (hallux) shifts towards the second toe, the large joint at the base of the toe becomes enlarged. The resulting angle can cause a deformity and an often painful enlargement. This deformity is commonly referred to as a bunion.

  • Symptoms & Signs

    Bunions are an enlargement at the base of the big toe at the ball of the foot. The big toe can then begin to angle towards the second toe. The area about the joint at the ball of the foot may become painful with pressure and/or bending and the skin over the enlargement may appear more red in colour.

  • Treatment

    Bunion treatment begins with wide accomodative footwear with minimal friction or pressure seams that may cause friction over the bunion. The toe box area should be rounder and not push the big toe towards the second toe. Custom orthotics are used when biomechanical faults or alignment issues are identified with your foot structure.

Symptoms & Cause

An enlarged medial  bony prominence of the first metatarsal head is termed to be a bunion. As the condition progresses the first MTP joint can then become more significantly enlarged. Faulty biomechanics in the foot and the first MTP joint are the main contributing factors to the progression of bunions but it is important to note that not all bunions are painful. It has been documented that poorly fitting tight footwear can rapidly increase pain, swelling and inflammation to the bunion and should be avoided. So ensure your footwear fits properly.

Pedorthic Treatment

The first step in reducing bunion irritation begins with switching to shoes that fit properly and do not compress the toes.  Shoes can be modified by using a stretcher to stretch out the areas that put pressure on your toes. Your Pedorthist can give you specific information about proper shoe fit and the type of shoes that would be best for you.

Custom foot orthotics are used to reduce pressure to your bunion and decrease motions such as pronation that can lean the foot onto the bunion area. Toe spacers can be placed between your toes to provide friction and rubbing relief on the adjacent toe. If the joint is painful at rest or at night, a splint that places your big toe in a straighter position may help relieve pain.

Applying ice a few times a day for 15 minutes at a time can help reduce swelling. Do not apply ice directly on your skin.

If you are experiencing bunion pain or discomfort, you should consult your physician for a proper diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan.

Your doctor may refer you to OKAPED to see a Canadian Certified Pedorthist for Pedorthic management of your bunion. This may include orthopaedic footwear, shoe selection guidance, orthotics and/or foot related products such as a Hallux Valgus Splint. If you know your condition and want to learn about new products and treatments please give us a call.

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