Description (Definition): The medical terms used to describe a bunion are Hallux Valgus and Hallux Abducto Valgus. A bunion is a complex deformity that results in:
- A bump that develops on the inner side of the foot, in the area where the big toe and the bone it connects to (called the first metatarsal) meet.
- The turning inward of the big toe, so that it presses against the second toe (the big toe is no longer straight).
Bunions are a progressive deformity, and if left untreated the bump will become larger, and the big toe will eventually lie over or under the second toe.
Causes of Bunions: The normal foot is made up of bones and joints which are held tightly together, in a precise relationship. In order for a bunion to form, the ligaments and tendons which hold the bones and joints together must be more flexible than normal. This abnormal flexibility is usually the result of a biomechanical foot defect called pronation, which destroys the normal relationship between the big toe and the first metatarsal. Pronation is caused by either the genes we inherit, or the way our feet lie against the uterine wall prior to our birth. Pronation is a turning outward of the foot at the ankle, so that one has a tendency to walk on the inner border of the foot. When this occurs, we walk with an abnormal amount of our weight being forced on the big toe and first metatarsal. The result is a bump on the inner side of the foot, and a big toe which is pushed over toward the second toe. When flat feet occur along with pronation, the foot becomes even more flexible and susceptible to bunion formation.
Bunion progression may be hastened by:
- Wearing high heel and pointed toe shoes. These types of shoes apply abnormal pressure to the big toe and force it over toward the second toe; they also irritate the first metatarsal head causing a bump to form (when bone is irritated it enlarges).
- An injury to the inner side of the foot or big toe may damage the first metatarsalphalangeal joint, and speed up bunion formation.
- Arthritis of the first metatarsalphalangeal joint may cause the joint to become enlarged, and a bunion may then form.
- Some neurological diseases cause contractures of the joints of the feet and toes, helping bunions to form.
Long term treatment of bunions must be directed towards re-balancing the foot, so that we no longer walk with our weight forced on to the inner border of the foot. This is accomplished by controlling and reducing pronation with the use of custom made orthotics. When designed correctly, custom-made orthotics comfortably re-balance the feet and overcome pronation. This reduces the abnormal weight forces on the big toe and its metatarsal head, allowing the feet to function normally. As a result, the deformity should not worsen, and the pain should gradually subside. If the foot is not re-balanced, the deformity and pain will become worse. For more information about our custom-made orthotics for bunions, which will fit in any shoe with a heel height of 1 1/2" inches or less, click here.
Short term pain relievers - releive bunion pain with:
- A Toe Alignment Splint will prevent further movement of the "big toe," in addition to straightening it.
- A soft, long lasting Silopad Gel Bunion Shield can be worn in your everyday shoes.
- Developed by a prominent footcare specialist, BunionCare Gel Sleeve's anatomical design cushions and protects the entire painful and sensitive bony protrusion of the forefoot.
- Wear wider and flatter shoes, with a rounded toe.
Gentle massage with a topical pain reliever can help to provide comfort. By combining the pain relieving properties of Tripod Labs Flexstat Topical Pain Reliever with gentle massage, pain, swelling, and inflammation can be reduced or eliminated.
- Exercise the toe. With your hand, move the toe up and down, and bring it out, as far as is comfortable for 3 to 5 minutes daily. If this becomes painful, stop immediately.
- If you ever experience open sores, extreme redness, or extreme pain, see a podiatrist immediately.