A bunion is a bulge or bump that develops on the inner side of the foot, near the base of the first toe. It is a postural adaptation that has developed over time due to poor foot posture and function. The condition tends to worsen over time leading to discomfort and skin problems such as corns and lesions as well as not looking very pleasant. It may eventually cause difficulty in walking due to arthritic changes and finding shoes that fit.
Bunions are among the most common problems of the foot. Flat, mobile feet are the major causes of bunions. They tend to run in families as you inherit your parents’ foot structure. Another cause is excessively tight and pointy toe-boxes in shoes, high heels and shoes that are just too small. These shoes promote the misalignment of the big toe.
The typical bunion starts off as a mild bump or outward bending of the big toe. The forces imparted by the misaligned foot structure and/or poor footwear stretch the ligaments and tendons that connect the bones of the foot. This in turn forms a imbalance, pulling the tendons inwards, gradually drawing the big toe farther out of line.
Your Podiatrist cannot remove the bunion, however they can alleviate the pain it produces and retard its progression. They remove the pressure that is causing a problem by using padding, shoe inserts and footwear modifications. Any existing callus or corns are debrided providing immediate relief. Custom-made arch supports (‘orthotics’) are used to stop the bunion progressing further. (It is standard for orthoses to be made after surgery). Additional treatment protocols include the prescription of strengthening and mobilization exercises. A night splint may be necessary in some circumstances. In extreme cases surgical intervention is required to correct any structural abnormalities.