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Know your Bunions!

Bunions are one of the most common foot problems, especially amongst women.  The medical name for bunions is Hallux Valgus.  Hallux valgus refers to the condition in which the big toe is angled excessively towards the second toe.  A bunion actually refers to the bony prominence on the side of the big toe, which can also form a large sac of fluid, known as a bursa. This can become inflamed and sore, particularly if it is rubbed by footwear.  Another type of bunion is called a ‘Tailor's Bunion’. This forms on the outside of the foot towards the joint at the little toe. It is a smaller bump that forms due to the little toe moving inwards, towards the next toe.

Hallux valgus can develop because of an abnormality in foot function or arthritis but no one single cause has been proven. The most common cause of pain from Hallux valgus is wearing ill-fitting footwear that rubs on the prominent joint. Tight, narrow dress shoes with a constrictive toe area can cause abnormal forces on the foot leading to the formation of a painful joint.  It is important to realize that wearing dress shoes and boots, which are tapered in the toe area, can cause the Hallux valgus to worsen to the point where surgery is necessary.  Interestingly there does seem to be a familial link to the formation of Hallux valgus – most sufferers will remember a parent or grandparent with similar problems, but medics are still unsure to why this is so.

The best way to alleviate the pain is to wear properly fitting shoes. Shoes designed with a deep, wide toe area are best and there should be 1 centimetre between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe.  Shoes with an adjustable strap or lace will also provide better support and prevent your foot from moving around too much in your shoe.  Shoes with rocker soles will unload pressure to the bunion area but these need to be prescribed by a qualified practitioner, such as a Podiatrist or Orthotist, to ensure the correct design is used. Orthotics are also recommended for this condition to provide extra comfort, support, and protection and help you walk in a way that doesn’t exacerbate the problem, but they won’t change the shape of your foot.

Using foot care products designed to accommodate and relieve pain such as bunion shields, splints and bandages can sometimes limit the pain of the bunion and provide a healthy environment for the foot, but there is no evidence that they can correct the underlying deformity.  For that, you need surgery. Your podiatrist can discuss your needs with you and, if necessary, refer you to a podiatric surgeon to remove the bunion and realign the toe.   It is always best to see a Podiatrist just in case there are any underlying problems that might need to be addressed and they will discuss the best course of treatment for your feet with you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Feet (etc) is the trading name of Feet (etc) Limited which is registered in England and Wales number: 8649520. Registered office: 76 Derby Road, Stapleford, Nottingham, NG9 7AB.