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.
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.