Ease Bunion Pain Without Surgery

Wondering how to ease pain caused by bunions or stop them from getting worse?

A bunion or Hallux Abducto Valgus (HAV) is a deformity of both the big toe and the long bone connected to it, the 1st metatarsal. What creates the deformity, the “bunion”, is when the first metatarsal starts to move out of alignment, gradually shifting inwards (away from the foot) as the big toe shifts in the opposite direction (towards the smaller toes).

This deformity results in discomfort and pain, abnormal mechanics of the foot, osteoarthritis and in severe cases surgery.

Bunions are considered to be familial, meaning if one of your parents or grandparents have them, chances are you may develop them also. Actually, something you’ll hear a podiatrist saying regularly is that you can use your parents feet as a guide as to what yours will turn out like.

Traditionally it was thought poor footwear was the cause of bunions, however there is conflicting research that asserts poor footwear alone does not cause bunions. In saying that, if you are predisposed to inheriting bunions, wearing poor footwear such as elevated heels with no support and restricted toe space surely does not help.

Due to changes that occur in the foot, people that suffer from bunions are also more likely to experience pain in other parts of their body, like the knee, hip, and lower back. In long-term or severe cases these changes can result in people developing osteoarthritis and even requiring surgery. Subsequently, as you can imagine this can have quite a detrimental effect on quality of life. Not only quality of life but all-round health; physical, financial and mental. As bunions get worse, so do the problems associated with them.

As bunions progress, they can result in toe deformities such as hammertoes, crossover toes, clawed digits, callus and corns. They can be a main cause or forefoot pain, general instability, an increased risks of falls and even result in ugly shoes!

However that being said, it is not all doom and gloom. There are things you can do to reduce and even eliminate the pain associated with bunions. There are conservative measures that can be made to slow down the rate of progression, to help improve function and reduce further degeneration. You aren’t necessarily doomed to a life of hobbit feet…

 

Who gets bunions then, will I develop one?


Unfortunately, bunions are around twice as common in women as what they are in men. The prevalence of bunions also coincides with the number of trips around the sun you have had. The older you are, the higher your likelihood of suffering bunions. As previously mentioned, there are studies that demonstrate around 28% of people aged 50 to 59 report having bunions, with roughly 56% of people over the age of 80 affected. In saying that, bunions can affect all people at almost any age.

“There is a huge familial component, if neither your parents or grandparents have bunions and your feet do not have that classic bump at the big toe joint, chances are you’ll be pretty safe.”

How to stay a step ahead of bunions?


So it was mentioned earlier that there are conservative things that can be done to prevent a bunion from getting worse. It isn’t 1990 anymore, most people have seen all kinds of splints and padding available to buy online. Some gadgets look like med-evil torture devices to put between your toes and around your feet claiming “Sleep and stretch your foot.” or “Wake up without bunions”.

Take it as you will but bunions do not occur while you are sleeping, they are a chronic and progressive issue that develop over time. Usually they result from a ligamentous laxity throughout the foot. A laxity that allows for an abnormal or improper movement of joints and bones throughout gait (while walking). From this laxity and abnormal joint function the first metatarsal moves medially and the big toe (due to muscular attachment) drifts over towards the smaller toes.

It is for the muscular component that those med-evil stretching devices and people claiming to correct bunions through mobilisation and stretching techniques make the claims they do. However, the drifting toe alone is not the bunion. Treatments that only address the drifting toe do not address the bunion, nor do they address the mechanical changes that come hand in hand or in this case foot in foot with the condition (sorry couldn’t help myself).

Now to contradict myself, there are instances where having a wedge between the first and second toe can actually help improve the alignment of the big toe joint and reduce pain in that specific area. I mentioned above that mobilisation and stretching techniques do not get rid of the bunion, they can however be effective in improving aesthetics and reducing pain. Podiatrists can create patient specific customised wedges for your toes to improve comfort and joint alignment, as well as teach you some techniques to improve aesthetics and… offer short-term relief.

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