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Different Stages of a Bunion

A bunion, medically known as hallux valgus, is characteristic of an angular bony protrusion that forms at the site of the large joint that connects your big toe to your foot.

This joint, called the first metatarsophalangeal joint (or MTP joint for short)is a critical junction of bones, tendons, and ligaments that bear much of our weight when we’re on our feet. With this deformity, the big toe slowly and gradually turns towards the lesser toes as the joint deviates from proper alignment.

This foot deformity occurs in about 10-30% of the population, affecting twice as many females than males. Bunions are caused by wearing poor-fitting shoes, faulty foot mechanics, muscle imbalances, lax ligaments, inflammatory arthritic conditions, and genetics.

Bunions can be asymptomatic, although some people may experience pain, redness, and swelling at the joint, especially with tight footwear and extended periods of standing or walking. Symptoms tend to subside with rest.

Unfortunately, a bunion is a progressive deformity and is irreversible without surgical intervention. This means they will slowly get worse over time. They are categorized in stages to determine the severity of the deformity.

Without treatment, there is a greater risk a bunion will progress from one stage to the next.

Stages of Bunions

4 stages of bunion deformities

Stage 1

Visually, a bunion at this stage is considered mild. There may be a small “bump” at the side of the 1st MTP joint and the big toe will be slightly turned towards the second toe, although not touching it.

Stage 2

Big toe further deviates from the MTP joint. At this stage, the 1st toe may be touching the 2nd toe beside it.

Stage 3

The bony protrusion at the base of the big toe is significant because at this stage, the base of the 1st toe has developed a bone spur. The 1st toe also starts to rotate on its axis away from the mid-line of the body.

Stage 4

The 1st MTP joint has dislocated and the 1st toe will under ride or override the 2nd toe. At this stage, the 2nd toe will also present with a hammer toe deformity.

Although the only way to reverse a bunion is by surgery, it is recommended if symptoms are not manageable by conservative measures and if function is severely compromised.

Conservative bunion management includes custom foot orthotics, splints, bunions guards, toe separators, and foot exercises.

Conservative treatments help to slow down the progression of a bunion as well as manage pain.

Talk to your Chiropodist about the stage of your bunions and which conservative treatment options would be best for you!

5 Simple Exercises for Bunions

A bunion (also known as hallux valgus) is a deformity of the big toe where the 1st metatarsal phalangeal joint is misaligned. With this deformity, the muscles surrounding the big toe are at an imbalance. In particular, the muscle that pulls the big toe towards the lesser toes is at a mechanical advantage, pulling the big toe closer to the one beside it. This is muscle is called the Adductor Hallucis. To counteract this muscle, we have to strengthen the opposing muscle: the Abductor Hallucis.

The following exercises and stretches focus on the smaller muscles of the foot, which is essential in managing bunions and the pain associated with them.

Toe curls and spreads

Curling toes down and spreading toes upwards

Do this exercise sitting with your foot several inches off the floor. Curl the toes down as if you want to grab something with the toes. Hold that position for 10 seconds and release. Then bring your heel to the ground, lift your foot slightly and spread your toes as far apart as possible. Hold that position for 30 seconds. Do this 5 times on each foot.

Towel grip and pull

Curled toes pulling towel towards foot

Place a towel on the ground and put your foot on top of the towel. Then use your toes to scrunch the towel towards you. Do this for 1-2 minutes on each foot.

Toe stretches

Hand gently pushing toes downward

Use your fingers to press your big toe down and hold that stretch for 30 seconds. Then position your toe in the opposite direction and use your fingers to help reach the end range of motion. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds. Do this 5 times on each foot.

Toe resistance exercises

Use your fingers or your other big toe to create resistance so that the small muscles within the foot are isolated and activated. Place your finger on top of the big toe and while applying a small amount of pressure downwards, move your toe in the opposite direction. Hold this for 10 seconds. Then bring your finger under the toe and apply a bit of pressure pushing the toe upwards. While doing this, push your toe downwards and hold for 10 seconds. Finally, bring your finger to the side of your big toe pushing it towards the second toe. While applying this pressure, move your big toe away from the lesser toes. Hold this for 10 seconds. Do this entire exercise 5 times on each foot.

Toe circles

Do this sitting on a chair. Bring your foot on the knee and use your hand to grip your big toe and run it through circular motions. This keeps the joint mobile.

At first, these exercises may seem unnatural and difficult to do, but with time and consistency, you will get the hang of it!

For more information on bunions, click here!

For more inquiries and hopes to speak to a Licensed Chiropodist, book an appointment at Feet First Clinic.

We are open six days a week!

Is There Any Hope for Bunions?

A bunion is the misalignment of the two bones that make up the joint at the base of the 1st toe (1st metatarsal phalangeal joint). It is characterized by a bony prominence at the side of the base of the big toe and can present with pain, redness, and sometimes even swelling. With time, the big toe may also start to turn towards the toe beside it.

Unfortunately, a bunion is irreversible and progressive once it starts. This means you can’t reverse what has already happened and with time, the bunion will slowly get worse. Even with surgery, there is no guarantee the joint won’t start to be misaligned again.

However, you can drastically SLOW DOWN this progressive deformity and manage the pain that is associated with it. And like with most things in life, the sooner you address the issue, the better the outcome. Follow the recommendations below to help your bunions while you can!

Wear Better Shoes

Your footwear is extremely important in the management of bunions. Limit (and completely eliminate if possible) the use of high heels and narrow, pointed shoes. They are a bunion’s worst nightmare. The constant friction between the bunion and the shoe will only irritate the area causing inflammation and further damage. Try to opt for shoes that have a wider toe box, one that will accommodate the natural shape of your foot. If your foot is wide, don’t fret! There are brands that provide additional width to their shoes. Ara, Saucony, Clarks, Naot, Birkenstocks, and Mephisto are great examples.

Clarks – Bay Rosa

Have your foot assessed for Custom Foot Orthotics

Foot function and foot mechanics can also contribute to the formation of bunions. For instance, overpronation, which is the turning in of your foot towards your arches as you are walking, can lead to bunions. With overpronation, the ground pushes up on the 1st metatarsal phalangeal joint leading to unfavourable positions of the surrounding tendons and ultimately, an imbalance in the muscular pull that keeps the joint in place. This imbalance leads to the misalignment of the joint. Therefore, correcting poor foot mechanics with custom foot orthotics can help manage the bunions and prevent them from getting worse.

Use over the counter foot care products

In addition to orthotics, consider using over the counter foot care products to reinforce the most optimal position of the 1st metatarsal phalangeal joint as well as shield it from unwanted pressures. The Ultra Thin Bunion Aligner by Infracare for example, can be worn during the day under your sock and works to gently realign the big toe towards its natural position. Silicone toe spacers, silicone bunion guards, as well as night splints are also good examples of simple foot care supplies that help mitigate pain and protect the joint.


A Chiropodist will assess your foot and be able to determine the cause of bunion formation as well as educate you on the best ways to manage them.

Book an appointment with a Chiropodist at Feet First Clinic today for a professional diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan!

Effective Ways That you Can Treat Your Bunion Pain

Bunions are enlargements and misalignment of the joints at the base of the big toes. The bad news is that bunions will not go away — they are permanent. The good news is that you can stop the discomfort and pain with certain forms of treatment.

One way to treat your bunions is to take anti-inflammatory medication and place ice packs on them to ease any swelling. This is only necessary when they are irritated, inflamed or painful to the touch. While icing your bunions, take a moment to put up your feet and rest.

Another good way to treat your bunions is to ditch the uncomfortable shoes. Many people believe that the foot condition is caused by high heels or pointed-toed shoes, but this hasn’t been proven. However, these types of shoes will exacerbate the problem and make your bunions more prominent and painful. The notoriously tight and narrow shoe styles can also disturb tailor’s bunions or “bunionettes” — these are the bunions sitting on the joints of your smallest toes.

Comfortable shoes with deep toe-beds are excellent treatment options and preventative measures. Visit the clinic to buy the best custom orthotics Toronto has to offer in a variety of styles and brands that will rival your most fashionable high heels. There are plenty of dress shoes available that will look chic and feel comfortable at the same time.

The shoe options will also be helpful for anyone whose bunion has affected their foot shape. If that’s the case, let one of the clinic representatives know and we’ll work hard to get you the right shoe fit.

toronto foot clinic

Another great way to reduce bunion progression is to use custom foot orthotics. Custom foot orthotics can be made to your specific arch profile to reduce excessively high pressures at the forefoot, which can, in turn, aggravate and accelerate bunion formation. Orthotics can also be made to control any biomechanical abnormalities that contribute to higher pressures through the 1st metatarsal head; most commonly overpronation and underpronation.

If you are looking to get a pair of custom orthotics, you should set up an appointment and meet our Toronto team of orthopedic doctors as soon as possible. Our chiropodists will work with you to get the perfect orthotics for your footwear.

The only way to get rid of bunions is to get them surgically removed. You shouldn’t consider bunion surgery unless the condition is impacting your everyday life:

  1. Other treatments are not reducing swelling or pain.
  2. The pain affects your walking.
  3. You circumvent your usual routine to avoid walking, standing or exercise.

You can visit our Toronto podiatry clinic any time you are suffering from foot pain or discomfort. We will work tirelessly to get to the root of your foot problems and find the treatment options that make your life easier.

Bunions shouldn’t dictate your daily life. They shouldn’t stop you from running errands or going for walks. They shouldn’t cause you discomfort the minute you slip on a shoe. Try simple solutions like anti-inflammatories, orthopaedic shoes or orthotics to deal with your bunions. If those don’t cut it, then you can start looking into surgery.

Wearing High Heels All of the Time Is Hard on your Body

Whether it’s a pair of black patent leather pumps, sky-high ruby red stilettos or strappy sandals, high heels are considered wardrobe staples that belong in a woman’s closet. They’re used for special occasions and everyday work-life, going out dancing or going for an important interview. Sadly, these beloved fashion statements can damage parts of your body over time.

Anyone who has ever worn a pair of high heels knows that after a few hours of standing and walking, your feet are throbbing. It’s a relief just to slip them off, sit down and let your pulsing toes have a little bit of a rest. These aches and pains come after only a few hours of wearing the shoes — the long-term effects are much worse.

One of the health problems that people can get from wearing high heels is developing large bumps called bunions on the outsides of their big toes. A bunion is a permanent side-effect, but you can get corrective surgery to remove part of the bone and add screws to keep the foot in an appropriate position.

Another one of the distressing things that high heels do to your feet is create hammertoes, which is when your little toes bend and buckle from the pressure of standing on them. Hammertoe is awkward and sometimes painful. Flexible hammertoes can be reversed through physiotherapy, orthopedic shoe replacements or corrective surgery.

You can explore our website to find out more info about common foot conditions that high heels create like ingrown nails, corns, calluses and blisters. Other types of shoes can cause these, but this style is a popular explanation for a lot of complaints.

Other than foot problems, high heels prematurely age your joints because they won’t allow your knee to straighten while accommodating for the additional weight placed on your legs. The reflex changes your gait (how you walk) and wears down your knees over time.

You’ll also find that high heels cause lower back pain by forcing your lower back to arch to compensate for the fact that you’re balancing your body weight on the balls of your feet. The shoes force your body weight to pull forward, so you lean back when you stand. The position puts a lot of stress on your spinal discs. Sticking with the shoes can lead to poor posture, persistent aches and muscle spasms.

toronto foot clinic

If you have any of the previous physical ailments, you can go to the Toronto foot clinic to see a trained chiropodist to help you find the right foot care options. Solutions for your symptoms can range from simple skin treatments to physical therapy to video gait analysis.

It’s also recommended that you swap your high heels for orthopedics, which will give you the support and comfort you need. You can check out the brands of footwear we carry to see what amazing choices we have for sensible but stylish dress shoes that you will want to put inside of your closet.

It’s clear that high heels are not worth the aches and pains that they put you through. These fashion fundamentals damage your feet, your knees and your back much more than you think. Push those sandals, stilettos and pumps to the back of the closet — it’s time to change up your footwear.