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Bunions Beware: Understanding, Preventing, and Treating Pesky Foot Protrusions

Bunions, those bony bumps that develop at the base of the big toe, can be a source of discomfort and pain for many individuals. Bunions are common: they affect roughly 23% of adults and are more frequent in women than men.

Beyond foot aesthetics, bunions lead to difficulties with walking and wearing certain types of footwear. That’s why understanding what bunions are, how to prevent them, and the available treatment options is crucial for maintaining healthy feet.

What are bunions?

Bunions, medically known as hallux valgus, are deformities of the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint, which connects the big toe to the foot. They typically form when the big toe leans toward the second toe, causing a misalignment of the bones. As a result, a bony protrusion, or bunion, develops on the side of the foot.

Common causes of bunions include:

  1. Genetics: Bunions can run in families, suggesting a hereditary component.
  2. Footwear: Wearing shoes that are too tight, narrow, or high-heeled can increase the risk of bunions.
  3. Foot structure: Abnormal foot mechanics or structure, including flat feet, may contribute to the development of bunions. The risk of bunions is more significant in people with weak connective tissue, a short Achilles tendon, short calf muscles, or joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Bunions can also result from having a flat foot.
  4. Medical conditions: Certain conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis, can make individuals more susceptible to bunions.

How to prevent bunions

While bunions can be influenced by genetics and foot structure, there are several steps you can take to prevent their formation or slow their progression:

Wear proper footwear

Choose shoes with a wide toe box that allows your toes to move comfortably. Avoid high heels and shoes with a pointed toe.

Orthotic inserts

Consider using orthotic inserts to support proper foot alignment and reduce the pressure on your big toe joint.

Maintain a healthy weight

Bunions Beware: Understanding, Preventing, and Treating Pesky Foot Protrusions

Excess weight can place additional stress on your feet, so maintaining a healthy weight is essential.

Foot exercises

Perform regular exercises to strengthen the muscles and improve the flexibility of your feet. Read our dedicated blog post about five simple exercises we recommend for bunions.

Toe spacers

Toe spacing devices can help keep your toes properly aligned and may help reduce the risk of bunion development.

How to treat bunions

If you already have bunions, or if preventive measures are not effective, there are bunion treatment options available:

Conservative measures

Non-surgical bunion treatment can include:

  • Wearing wider, more comfortable shoes.
  • Using padding to protect the bunion.
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers.

Orthotics

Custom orthotic insoles can help redistribute pressure on your feet and alleviate bunion-related pain.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy can improve joint function and alleviate discomfort.

Bunion splints

These devices are worn at night to help realign the big toe.

Surgery

If conservative measures fail or the bunion is severely painful and affects daily life, surgical correction may be necessary. Several surgical techniques are available, with the choice depending on the severity of the bunion and the patient’s needs. The three primary surgeries for bunion are exostectomy, osteotomy, and arthrodesis.

Are bunions preventing you from living pain-free? Learn more about bunions at Feet First Clinic

If you suspect you have a bunion or are experiencing pain or discomfort, consult a chiropodist or health care professional for a proper diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. You can address bunions and enjoy healthier, more comfortable feet with the right approach.

We at Feet First Clinic can put you on the right track to prevent, treat, and understand bunions. Book an appointment online using the form below or call us at (416) 769-3338.

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Carolina Charles

Patient Relation Coordinator (She/Her)

If you’ve been to the clinic before, chances are you had the pleasure of meeting Carolina! Carolina’s daily goal is going above and beyond to make sure patients are always completely satisfied. Having worked in the podiatry industry for 22 years, Carolina brings a wealth of knowledge pertaining to client service, insurance policies, and procedures.​ She steers the ship to make sure everything runs smoothly on the daily. Carolina is known for spicing up every outfit with her signature costume jewellery.