There are all kinds of things that can go wrong with feet, which is unsurprising really, given the number of complicated bones and ligaments inside them, and the amount of pressure and shock they are subject to as a result of our activities.
Couple this with being cocooned for most of the day in shoes which are often not necessarily designed purely with foot health in mind, and it is no small wonder that most people experience foot problems at one time or another. One of the most common foot issues, which affects people of all ages, is the bunion. Here we take a look at what bunions are, what causes them, and what you can do if you have one
What Are Bunions?
A bunion is a misalignment of the bone at the base of one of the outer toes – that is, either the big toe or the ‘pinky’ toe. Podiatrists call these the 1st (big toe) and 5th (little toe) toes. The misalignment causes the toe to be bent too far inwards towards the other toes, causing there to be a bony protrusion at the point where the base of the bone meets the rest of the foot.
Often, because there is pressure on this point from your shoes, blisters, calluses and hard lumps can form on the bunion, making it very painful. In some cases, however, a bunion can exist without causing any pain at all.
What Causes Bunions?
One common misconception is that bunions are caused by wearing shoes that are too small, too tight or badly designed. This actually is not the case. While ill-fitting or uncomfortable shoes will definitely exacerbate the pain associated with a bunion, because they will put pressure on it, they will not cause one to form.
Bunions are usually caused by unusual foot mechanics (usually as the result of bad gait, or an injury), problems with nervous or muscular function in the foot or leg, arthritis and other inflammatory conditions that affect the feet, or inherited foot deformities.
How Are Bunions Treated?
The first approaches a podiatrist will recommend for the treatment of your bunions will be conservative, non-surgical techniques like exercises, orthopedic footwear or footwear inserts, or ‘bunion splits’ which are designed to try and realign the affected toe. If these measures are not effective, foot surgery may be necessary to cure the bunion.
Because some of the rougher bunion outbreaks need professional intervention, Advanced Podiatry offers an unprecedented podiatric experience for all patients seen. If you are suffering from bunions, or are not sure if a problem with your feet might be a bunion, then the first thing to do is make an appointment with a registered local podiatrist.
Bunions can be painful, but can also have a negative effect on the way you walk that can lead to issues elsewhere in your body if left untreated, so it is important to see a podiatrist as soon as you notice a bunion forming. The sooner you seek professional intervention, the quicker you’ll have comfortable walks on the town.