Bunions

Noticed you are starting to develop a bump at the base of the big toe?

Bunions

Noticed you are starting to develop a bump at the base of the big toe?

Bunions are a common condition that affects the foot. They occur when the bone or tissue around the base of the big toe joint becomes misaligned and protrudes outwards. The resulting bony bump can cause significant pain, discomfort, and inflammation. Bunions can affect anyone, but they are more common in women and people with a family history of the condition.

What are Bunions?

A bunion is a deformity of the foot that occurs when the big toe joint becomes misaligned. The joint at the base of the big toe is forced to move out of its normal position, causing the big toe to angle towards the second toe. This angle causes the bone at the base of the big toe to protrude outwards, creating a bony bump.

The cause of bunions is not fully understood, but they are believed to be caused by a combination of genetics, footwear, and foot structure. People with flat feet or high arches may be more susceptible to developing bunions.

Bunion Classification

Bunions are graded based on the degree of deviation of the big toe and the extent of the joint involvement. There are four grades of bunions:

  1. Grade 1: In this grade, the big toe is slightly deviated, and the joint is partially involved. The bony bump may be present, but it is not prominent.

  2. Grade 2: In this grade, the big toe is moderately deviated, and the joint is more involved. The bony bump is more prominent, and the foot may be wider.

  3. Grade 3: In this grade, the big toe is severely deviated, and the joint is extensively involved. The bony bump is very prominent, and the foot is wider and more misshapen.

  4. Grade 4: In this grade, the big toe is severely deviated, and the joint is severely damaged. The bony bump is very large and may cause ulcers, blisters, or calluses. The foot may be extremely misshapen, and surgery is often necessary.

Bunion Grading System, Bunion Classification, Types of Bunions, Bunions, Podiatrist Sydney

In addition to the different grades of severity, bunions can also be classified into two main types: structural and functional. Structural bunions are caused by an underlying bone deformity, while functional bunions are caused by the way you walk or the shoes you wear.

Structural bunions are caused by an abnormal bone structure in the foot. This abnormality can cause the joint to become unstable, leading to the formation of a bunion. Functional bunions, on the other hand, are caused by external factors, such as wearing tight or ill-fitting shoes or having an abnormal walking gait.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of bunions can vary from person to person. Some people may have no symptoms at all, while others may experience significant pain and discomfort. Common symptoms of bunions include:

  • A bony bump at the base of the big toe
  • Swelling and redness around the affected area
  • Pain or discomfort when walking or standing
  • Corns or calluses on the affected toe
  • Restricted movement of the big toe

Causes and Risk Factors

Bunions can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, foot injuries, and arthritis. Wearing tight, narrow shoes or high heels can also increase the risk of developing bunions.

Other risk factors for bunions include:

  • Flat feet or high arches
  • Collapsing arches
  • Abnormal walking patterns or gait
  • Obesity
  • Occupations that require prolonged periods of standing or walking
  • Gender (bunions are more common in women than men)

Prevention and Treatment

Prevention is key to managing bunions. Wearing shoes with a wide toe box, low heel, and good arch support can help reduce the risk of developing bunions. Avoid wearing tight-fitting shoes or high heels for prolonged periods.

Non-surgical treatments for bunions include:

  • Using customised foot orthosis (orthotics) to improve foot function and reduce bunion progression
  • Changing footwear to more supportive shoes with a wider toe box
  • Applying ice to the affected area to reduce swelling
  • Pressure relief and cushioning such as bunion pads or toe spacers, to help realign the toe joint and take pressure away from the joint
  • Muscle stretching and strengthening 

In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the bunion and realign the joint. Surgery is typically only recommended if non-surgical treatments have failed, and the bunion is causing significant pain and discomfort.

When to See a Podiatrist

If you experience persistent pain, swelling, or difficulty walking due to bunions, it is essential to seek medical attention. A podiatrist can diagnose the condition and provide appropriate treatment options. They may also recommend physical therapy or orthotics to help manage the symptoms of bunions.

Summary

Bunions are a common condition that affects the foot. They occur when the bone or tissue around the base of the big toe joint becomes misaligned and protrudes outwards, causing a bony lump. Bunions can be classified into two main types: structural and functional. Structural bunions are caused by an underlying bone deformity, while functional bunions are caused by external factors, such as wearing tight or ill-fitting shoes or having an abnormal walking gait. Additionally, there are four grades of bunions based on the severity. 

The signs and symptoms of bunions can vary from person to person, with some people experiencing no symptoms at all, while others may have significant pain and discomfort. Bunions can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, foot injuries, and arthritis. Wearing tight, narrow shoes or high heels can also increase the risk of developing bunions.

Prevention is key to managing bunions, wearing customised foot orthosis and supportive shoes with a wider toe box, low heel, and good arch support can help reduce the risk of developing bunions. Non-surgical treatments for bunions include customised foot orthosis to improve foot function, changing footwear to more supportive shoes, applying ice to the affected area, taking over-the-counter pain medication, and using offloading techniques, such as bunion pads or toe spacers, to help realign the toe joint.

If non-surgical treatments have failed, and the bunion is causing significant pain and discomfort, surgery may be necessary to remove the bunion and realign the joint. It is essential to seek medical attention if you experience persistent pain, swelling, or difficulty walking due to bunions. A podiatrist can diagnose the condition and provide appropriate treatment options, including physical therapy or orthotics to help manage the symptoms of bunions.

Watch Shockwave Therapy In Action

FAQ's

If you have a bunion, there are several steps you can take to help prevent it from getting worse:

  1. Wear orthotics: Custom-made orthotics can help redistribute pressure away from the bunion, improve foot alignment, and prevent further progression of the bunion.

  2. Wear comfortable shoes: Avoid shoes with a tight, narrow toe box that can put pressure on the bunion. Opt for shoes with a wide toe box that allow your toes to move freely.

  3. Use padding: Consider using protective padding or cushions to help reduce pressure on the bunion.

  4. Lose weight: Excess weight can put additional pressure on the feet and exacerbate bunions.

  5. Stretch and exercise: Regular stretching and exercise can help improve foot and ankle strength and flexibility, reducing the risk of bunion formation.

  6. Avoid high heels: High heels can put pressure on the toes and worsen bunion symptoms.

It’s important to note that while these steps can help prevent bunions from getting worse, they may not be able to reverse the condition once it has developed. If you have a bunion that is causing pain or affecting your mobility, it’s important to seek the advice of a podiatrist for proper evaluation and treatment.

Bunions do not go away on their own, and they tend to worsen over time if left untreated. However, the progression of a bunion can be slowed down or stopped by taking appropriate measures, such as wearing properly fitting shoes, using orthotics, maintaining a healthy weight, and good muscle condition.

Toe separators, also known as toe spacers, are designed to help realign the toes and improve foot alignment. While they may provide some relief for individuals with bunions, they are not a standalone treatment for the condition and may not be effective for everyone.

If you suspect you have a bunion, you should see a podiatrist. Podiatrists are medical professionals who specialise in diagnosing and treating foot and ankle conditions, including bunions. They can provide a thorough evaluation of your condition, including an assessment of your foot mechanics, gait, and footwear, and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Related Conditions

Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles Tendonitis

The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel bone and is subject to repetitive stress. When the calf contracts, it pulls the heel up, and this movement allows us to push off our toes when we run, walk, or jump. Over time this can lead to inflammation, micro-tears, and tendonitis. The tendonitis can be located at the insertion point where the Achilles connects to the heel bone, in the middle of the tendon, or higher up where the tendon attaches to the calf muscle.

Learn more →

Jumpers Knee

Jumper’s knee

Patellar Tendonitis also known as Jumper’s knee is an inflammation or injury of the patellar tendon felt as pain, tenderness and functional deficit. This condition may interfere with or even end your patient’s sporting career regardless the age and is difficult to treat. Shockwave therapy offers a simple and immediate solution. The patient feels relief right after the first session and in several treatments the cause and the pain vanish.

Learn more →

Related Articles

What is Runners knee | How do you fix runners knee pain

A Quick Tip For “Runners Knee” – Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Patellofemoral pain syndrome is a common cause of anterior knee pain that often occurs while performing sports that involve a lot of running or jumping activities. However, it can also occur when simply walking up/down stairs or squatting (activities that result in increased loads going through the knee).

Read more

Cracked heels or running shoes causing pain | How to fix pain from cracked heels and running shoes

Hard Skin or Shoes Causing Pain? The Solution is Simple!​

As the weather cools down, we start to see a big change in footwear which can result in pain. Change of footwear sees an increase in painful corns and callous, it isn’t always your shoes need changing, sometimes it’s just a little TLC for your feet.

Read more →