By Christopher M. Cole, L.Ped
Are you one of the nearly 5.5 million Americans troubled with foot pain caused by a bunion?
What is a bunion?
A bunion is a bony bump located at the base of the big toe. It can be painful when it rubs against the shoe. Hallux abducto valgus is the medical term used to describe the position of the big toe, and is generally used together with the term bunion, which describes the enlarged joint. Bunions are one of the most common big toe problems.
Symptoms of a bunion include redness, swelling or pain at the base of the big toe. Initially, a bunion may present as non-painful deviation of your big toe towards the others. As the big toe progresses towards the others, calluses, corns and deformities of the other toes occur. You may also experience limited big toe motion.
How do bunions form?
A bunion forms when the big toe moves out of place. A bunion is the result of improper forces being passes through the joint during walking. Excessive pronation (or flattening of the foot) can contribute. In other words, the bunions is usually the result of a long period of incorrect foot function.
Your big toe is the big toe for a reason: it is designed to bear most of your weight when you walk. When the big toe is not functioning properly (as in the case of a bunion) you may experience symptoms in your feet, knees, hips and low back. Bunions are not inherited, but they can run in families. What can be inherited is your foot type, and some foot types are more prone to bunion formation than others.
How are bunions treated?
The initial goal of bunion treatment is to relieve pressure on the bunion and any symptoms that may be present.
Correct fitting shoes are essential to addressing the pain from a bunion that may be caused by rubbing against the inside of the shoe. Corns and calluses should be treated as well. Felt padding can be used to buffer the bunion against the shoe. Padding can also be placed in between the big toe and the second toe, which may lessen some of the pain. Keep in mind that these options can help the symptoms, but do not address the cause of your bunions.
Exercises and Splints
Exercises can be performed that may help keep the joint mobile. A night splint can be worn to try and prevent a loss of mobility. Night splints are more effective when used with young patients who still have considerable mobility in their joints.
Surgery is often done on an outpatient basis. The most common type of surgery involves realigning the bones of your big toe. Ligaments and tendons may be tightened and the bunion may be shaved away. If your bunion requires surgery, it is crucial that the cause of the problem is also addressed. Failure to do this may result in additional surgery when your bunion returns in a few years.
Custom Biomechanical Arch Support™ orthotics from Foot Solutions will address your bunion by correcting the cause of your foot dysfunction. Abnormal joint positions can be reversed allowing affected tissues to heal and normal joint function to be restored. In this way the orthotic provides both primary treatment and preventative care.
A Foot Solutions Custom Biomechanical Arch
Support™, unlike typical custom orthotics, are designed to completely support the corrected arch of your foot, determined by a unique way of capturing your optimal foot position. When this is done, the cause of your bunion is being addressed rather than just the symptoms.
What can I expect from treatment?
It is common to achieve bunion arrest or reversal with the right orthotics – especially in mild to moderate cases. Even in sever cases, Custom Biomechanical Arch Support™ orthoses are indicated to help restore proper function of the foot. The time to symptom resolution varies with the type, severity and cause of your bunion. Your age and the mobility of your joints is also a factor in your recovery. Custom Biomechanical Arch Support™ custom orthotics are critical to avoid re-occurrence after surgery as well.
This information is to provide a general overview on bunions and may not apply to everyone. To determine if custom orthotics can help treat your bunions or to get more information about proper footwear, talk to your Foot Solutions specialist today. Call 239-495-8911 or stop by Foot Solutions of Estero, 21301 S. Tamiami Trail (Corner of US41 & Corkscrew Rd – next to Publix).
Christopher M. Cole, L.Ped
Chris is a Licensed Board Certified Pedorthist and owner of Foot Solutions Estero, a BOC Accredited Facility. Chris graduated from Clemson University and has taken advanced course study in Mass Position Theory, CAD/CAM Technology for Prescription Foot Orthotics, Pedorthic Care of Diabetic Foot, Heel Pain Syndrome, Obesity among older Americans, Fall Prevention, and Shoe Construction and Modification.
Foot Solutions Estero