What is a Bunion and Who gets them?
Bunions – or Hallux Abducto Valgus, the medical term – are those big bony lumps you may have seen just behind the big toe of your Grandmas feet (Sorry Gran). They appear when the bones begin to align
abnormally and forces within the foot begin to push the big toe towards the little toes making that lump more prominent.
And, While there is a common myth that we often hear about bunions only being in older people, we also do see them in children, adolescents and young adults.
What are the Causes?!
There are a few factors which can lead to the development of Bunions such as Family history, footwear, foot mechanics. Family history is thought to play a large role in your foot shape and your foot function, both of which are major contributors to the formation of a bunion.
When we are assessing your foot function, one of the major factors we tend to see is excessive motion through the joints of the forefoot. What this means is that when we need to propel, the foot is too mobile and moving too much, instead of being a nice rigid lever. This causes what we call a sagittal block at the big toe joint. Instead of the joint moving straight up and down as it should, the joint becomes blocked or jammed, and our foot naturally then forces the big toe to point inwards so that there is some motion available to the propel forwards.
Tight fitting footwear, especially in the toe box area of the shoes are also thought to play a role in the formation of bunions. With tight footwear, your toes are quite often squashed together, which can lead to the migration of the big toe off towards the little toes.
How can a Podiatrist help?
There are a range of things we can do as Podiatrists, but initially what we need to do is find out the cause of YOUR bunions. We do this with thorough history taking, an in depth Biomechanical Assessment where we assess how your feet, ankles, knees and hips are functioning. Muscle testing to see if there are any weaknesses or imbalances in your feet or legs which may be contributing.
We may 3D scan your feet for prescription Orthotics depending on how well your foot is functioning from our Biomechanical Assessment.
We will do a footwear assessment to see how your shoes are looking and if they are the right fit for your feet, eg. giving you the right amount of support and have enough width through the front section so your toes aren’t squashed together. Click on the links to see the shoes we like to recommend; Bared footwear, Frankie 4, Rockport, Merrell as they tend to tick all of these boxes that we look for in a great fitting shoe.
Do you need Orthotics? Do you need Surgery?
Orthotics can be very useful for the treatment of bunions as its main function is to alter how your foot is functioning with the ground and improve the overall function of your feet, especially the big toe.
There are a wide range of other treatments that we can use in combination with orthotics to have the outcome we desire; such as toe separators and bunion pads. So Orthotics are not the only treatment we use, but with Orthotic intervention we do have the ability to increase the success rate of our treatment plan. Check out our website info about Orthotics!!
In terms of a surgical correction of a bunion, we need to consider a range of factors that may make you a good or poor candidate for a referral to a specialist. We look at how the bunion is affecting your daily living; so if it is always red and swollen, if you can’t find any shoes that your feet fit in to, if it is always sore and you just cant walk on your feet anymore, then chances are we will be considering the next step on the road to recovery which is surgical correction by a Specialist.