Everything you need to know about bunions but were afraid to ask.

Did you know that the prevalence of bunions is greater in females and older people? Bunions, or Hallux Valgus, is a common deformity of the big toe.  The big toe excessively tilts towards the 2nd toe and develops a bony prominence on the side of the foot.

What causes bunions?

Bunions do tend to be hereditary and are more common in people with flexible joints and flat feet.  The development of a bunion is multi-factorial and generally there in not one cause of bunions. Many people assume that bunions are caused by footwear but this is not often the case.

What are the symptoms?

A common complication of bunions is irritation from footwear. With the deformity making the foot wider, this can occur in many forms but the most common sites for footwear irritation are on the bony prominence of the bunion, or on top of the 2nd toe.  Often due to irritation from footwear, a bursitis (inflamed fluid filled sac) can develop over the prominence.  It can be common for the big toe  to invade the space of the 2nd toe, and it is also common for the 2nd toe to ride up and rub on the inside of the shoe.

Corns and callus can form between the toes, on the bony prominence, or on the sole of the foot. Corns and callus (hard skin) are also common secondary problems with bunions.

What are the treatment options?

Comfortable shoes are very important.  The right footwear will reduce the irritation from footwear and limit your symptoms.  Try and avoid wearing high heels or shoes with a tight or shallow toe box.

Depending on the severity of the deformity, you are likely to need a shoe with more width and depth in the toe box.   Simple insert pads can be an effective, short term, relief from symptoms.  Felt or gel pads can be used to reduce irritation from footwear and relieve pressure points.

To reduce the pressure on painful joints, Orthotics (special, medical insoles) are often used to offload the painful bunion and are very successful in treating pain under the ball of the foot.  If conservative measures have failed, or you cannot find a comfortable shoe, surgery is indicated.  There are many different operations for bunions, and will vary with individual symptoms.

If you have a painful bunion, it would be worthwhile to book an appointment to discuss how we can help.


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