Bunion’s occur on the side of the big toe and can become a constant source of pain and irritation to the outside surface of the foot. Bunions typically develop over time and may not become an issue until the mid to later years of life. For some, bunions will occur much earlier and need to be treated by an experienced chiropractor or physiotherapist who deals with conditions of the foot and ankle.
Symptoms of a bunion
Bunion symptoms come on gradually and typically increase over time. The most common symptom of a bunion is pain around the ball or base of the big toe. Because the toe points in and makes the big toe knuckle stick out, this can be a common place for friction, irritation and pain to the outside surface of the big toe. It is rare that someone will be surprised they have a bunion as they can be readily observed.
In some cases, there is inflammation or fluid about the bunion and this can caused it to be hot and swollen. In more serious cases, people have experienced difficulty wearing certain types of shoes that cause pressure on the joint or on the bone. In advanced cases, people can have difficulty walking on their feet or standing on their feet for a long period of time.
Causes of a bunion
Adult’s aged 18 – 65 yeas-old can experience bunions. While women and older people are more likely to have bunions, teenagers can also develop the condition. There are differing opinions on what causes bunions beyond genetic and hereditary factors. For example, it used to be thought that tight shoes and high heels could cause bunions alone. This is unlikely to be the only factor that leads to the formation of bunions in individuals. There are definite risk factors for bunion development and progression and these include:
- Poor fitting shoes
- High heels which causes pressure on the foot as the heel is raised up
- Biomedical factors, such as if your foot rolls in or flattens
- Age as the ligaments loose strength with age
- Achilles tendon shortening
- Degeneration of the big toe joint
- Neuromuscular disorders
- Increased length of the first metatarsal bone in the foot
- Pressure on the inside of the forefoot
- Collagen deficient diseases.
Treatment of a bunion
The treatments given by our Sydney chiropractors and physiotherapists at Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C) are focused on reducing pain and improving foot and toe function. To reduce pain:
- Simple taping methods can be used to take the pressure off the big toe.
- Your chiropractor or physiotherapist will check your shoes
- Padding and cushioning can be placed in shoes to reduce the contact and direct pressure on the big toe.
- Orthotics can be given to correct the biomechanics of the foot
- Conservative chiropractic and physiotherapy treatments such as joint mobilisations and ice/heat therapy can offer pain relief
- If conservative treatment by a chiropractor or physiotherapist has not been effective, severe bunion cases may require surgery to realign the joint. The surgery will involve removing the excess bone and realigning the ligaments and tendons. Recovery will require the foot to be immobilised and in a cast for four to eight weeks.
Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C) is a foot and ankle treatment centre of excellence located in Balmain and Dee Why, Sydney. Our chiropractors and physiotherapists use the highest standards in treatment for foot and ankle pain. All treatments are based on the latest research and evidence.