Bunion formation is a common foot problem that can start as early as the pre-teen years. It is far more prevalent in women. A bunion is a deformity of the great toe joint. It is also called Hallux Valgus. The great toe deviates toward the small toe side of the foot. The first metatarsal bone, which is one of the five long bones in the foot that helps make up the instep or ball of the foot, joins with the phalanges of the great toe to form the joint that deviates. The first metatarsal deviates in the opposite direction of the phalanges. The toe deviation may not cause pain, but the overlying bursa can become inflamed resulting in pain. The second toe can become painful due to the deformity. This deformity can produce stress to the second toe joints.
Anatomy of the Foot
There are 26 bones in each foot. There are only 206 in the entire body! The care of the foot is important to your overall health.
The bunion or hallux valgus forms at the 1st metatarsal and proximal phalangeal joint.
What Are The Causes Of Bunion Formation?
There are several causes of this foot condition. They include the following:
- Tight or Constricting Footwear – Narrow pointed shoes that compress the forefoot or toes is thought to be the primary contributing factor.
- Other Foot Deformities – Joint laxity, Achilles tendon tightness and flat feet change the biomechanics of the foot.
- Family Genetics – It has been reported that hallux valgus or bunion formation has a tendency to run in families.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Bunion?
Most patients are relatively asymptomatic or experience mild discomfort and are more concerned about the “cosmetic look” of the foot.
Unfortunately in some cases the symptoms and deformity progress rapidly. When walking, pain can be present in the forefoot at the moment you are pushing off the toes when they are bending.
This may result in an altered gait to minimize the foot pain while walking.
What Can Be Done To Treat A Bunion?
The very first action in the care and treatment of a bunion should be to evaluate your footwear. If your shoe is too tight and compresses the toes an immediate change in the type of footwear to less constrictive shoes is recommended. In addition to the change in footwear, the following may be helpful:
- Prevent Progression of Deformity – Make accommodation for the swollen and enlarged area by wearing a wider shoe.
- Acute Office Care – Ultrasound to help reduce the acute swelling.
- Foot Orthotics – Gives support and relief in many cases and is helpful with providing an arch for flat feet.
- Night Splint – Wearing a splint designed for hallux valgus or bunion formation.
- Stretching – Stretching the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia if tightness is present.
- Home Care – Ice treatments to reduce pain and swelling. Physicians may recommend over-the-counter ibuprofen or NSAID’s.
- Surgery – If conservative management has not relieved and controlled the symptoms, surgical consult is warranted.
The main objective in the care and treatment of a bunion is relief from the pain. The deformity will remain. An understanding of the potential progressive nature of the condition is important. Temper expectations about your future shoe styles.
The doctors at Coon Rapids Chiropractic Office have experience in the conservative care treatment of foot problems.