What is a bunion?

A bunion ,also known as Hallux Valgus which is Latin for “big toe bent outwards”, is when the big toe moves inwards towards the second toe.  This results in a huge bend in the joint of the big toe causing an ugly bony prominence.  If you or anyone in your family has ever experienced a bunion, you’ll know what a pain they can be.

But did you realise:

  • There is no correlation between the size of the bunion and the pain you feel.
  • 90% of all bunions occur in women.
  • Without treatment bunions will get worse. You need to treat your bunion now even if it isn’t painful.

So how is a bunion caused and why do only some people get them?

  • Hereditary factors
  • Poor footwear choices
  • Foot type
  • Biomechanical factors (excessive pronation, flat feet)
  • Neuromuscular dysfunction
  • Ligament dysfunction (Laxity)

Women experience aches, pains and problems in their feet four times as much as men do.  This is probably due to the wide array of shoe options available to women (hello, stilettos!).  One huge issue in women’s footwear is that nine out of 10 women wear shoes that are too small for their feet.

Footwear is a huge part of healthy foot function, and wearing the correct shoes can make the difference between being in pain, and being pain-free.

Bunions are usually accompanied by pain due to the misalignment and subluxing of the first toe joint.  This misalignment is not the optimal mechanical design of the joint which can lead to inflammation and eventually the breakdown of cartilage within the joint, arthritis and possible pain.

Do I require treatment for this condition?

The type of treatment you require is very dependent on the severity of the bunion itself which can range from a graded stage I to IV.

All stages can initially be treated conservatively before surgical options are looked into. Conservative treatments usually consists of orthotics and/or foot braces, which will help correct mechanical strain on the big toe.  Advice on the correct footwear and foot management is critical to the treatment of this condition.

If conservative treatment is ineffective and you suffer from advanced stage bunions, usually surgery is considered.  This surgery will realign the Big toe and joint removing the deformity seen in the foot.

Don’t wait till you get pain in your bunion to seek advice.  Often when pain is present the condition has deteriorated beyond assistance.  Consult your local Podiatrist to get an assessment and advice on the best form of management for you.

Written by Sarah McMann.

Learn more about ATUNE Podiatry Here.