At Be Podiatry, a common presentation seen in our practice is bunions. A bunion (latin term Hallux Abducto Valgus) refers to the outward movement of the big toe joint, and inward movement of the big toe itself, back toward the lesser digits. Whilst bunions are considerably more prevalent in an older female cohort, they do not discriminate, and can affect the feet of men and women, young and old.
Footwear and activity can be triggering events for development of a bunion, however genetics are still widely considered the prime agonist when considering the development of bunions in our wider population. Often early stage bunion development may not affect overall joint range of motion and function, however it can cause poor foot function overall, as we begin to walk through the ‘inside’ of our big toe, further irritating structures through the inside of the foot and big toe joint.
Over time, malalignment of the big toe in the presence of a bunion can cause reduced joint range of motion, leaving us feeling like our toe is a rigid lever. Left unmanaged, often a rigid or painful bunion can result in further ‘roll-in’ of the foot in an attempt to walk around the rigid toe joint, leading to the possibility of further injury development. In instances where this has occurred, an appropriate means of reducing discomfort and improving function is via orthotic therapy, placing an insole into the shoe to better distribute pressure and allow the foot to function more efficiently.
At Be Podiatry, we understand that a bunion can be a painful condition to develop in the foot, and can make footwear and purchasing new shoes a very difficult prospect. Irritation to the skin and poor shoe fit are two key factors to consider when making new footwear decisions, and often require appropriate assessment from a podiatrist to ensure further pain and irritation are avoided where at all possible. It is thought that a tight ‘toe box’ placing pressure on the toes is a risk factor for further deviation of the big toe, and as such should be considered when making decisions regarding footwear.
A thorough understanding of the anatomy and physiology of a bunion ensures that our team of experienced podiatrists provide well-rounded and tailored care to our patients experiencing this condition. With appropriate offloading, sound footwear advice and varied management strategies including exercise therapy, taping techniques and pain management, bunions can be conservatively and effectively managed, allowing us to help our patients stay fit and active, and on their feet.